Fishing quotas undermine EU Common Fisheries Policy – WWF
Brussels, Belgium – Five years from its next reform, the EU Common Fisheries Policy is failing in its primary purpose to achieve the sustainable management of European fish stocks. The way fisheries quotas are set is fuelling the chronic problem of overfishing in Europe, putting at risk fish stocks and the future of the fishing sector, says a new report commissioned by WWF, the global conservation organisation.
The report examines progress of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy half way through its mandate (from 2002 until 2012). It shows that the majority of European fisheries are in fact not being properly managed, that scientific advice is too often ignored and that quotas agreed by the European Fisheries Ministers have largely been set much above sustainable limits.
"It is clear that the problems related to annual quota setting have not been eliminated since 2002 and a new horse-trading season to set quotas for 2008 is about to start. This is not a failure which can be laid at the door of the Commission alone, but a systematic shortcoming of the EU management and decision making structure itself. It raises serious concerns, as to whether the functioning of the Common Fisheries Policy is fit for purpose", says Aaron McLoughlin, Head of WWF’s European Marine Programme.
In 2006 and 2007, the majority of quotas recommended by the European Commission for the North Sea and the Celtic Sea regions were greater than those proposed by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas, the scientific body advising the Commission.
Other findings in the report include the fact that the Council has rarely adopted the necessary reductions in quotas for cod, in line with the agreed recovery plan. For the North Sea stock, a 55 per cent reduction in quota was not adopted in 2005. In 2006, the reduction was only 12 per cent compared to the required 16 per cent. In the Kattegat, a 51 per cent reduction was thought appropriate in 2005, but only a 27 per cent reduction was implemented. As a result, none of the cods stocks appear to be showing any signs of improvement compared to 2002.
According to the report, if the rules of the CFP were followed, there would be more fish. Instead, the current situation leads to four-fifths of EU fish stocks being outside safe biological limits in 2007. While the core of the problem clearly lies with the Fisheries Ministers setting higher quotas than those proposed by the European Commission, the analysis demonstrates that the Commission has also exceeded scientific advice.
"The framework may be sound, but its operation by the Commission and the Council distorts the original intent, especially when it comes to tough choices in the application of the precautionary principle", adds Aaron McLoughlin.
Ahead of the 2008 fishing quota negotiations in December, WWF urges the Commission and the Fisheries Ministers to take a strong stance and agree on quotas that follow scientific advice.
For further information:
Caroline Alibert, WWF European Fisheries Communications, Tel. +32 2 7400 936,
Aaron McLoughlin, Head of WWF European Marine Programme, Tel. +32 2 7400924, Mob. +32 472 948317 Email AMcLoughlin@wwfepo.org
Notes to the editors:
– The mid-term review report was undertaken by the Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), an independent marine consultancy, which used the evaluation criteria laid down in the CFP performance checklist as agreed by Europe’s Fisheries Ministers. The full report is available for download here: http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_cfp_midterm_review_10_2007.pdf
– This press release and related material is available on www.panda.org/eu