Last month, we asked you if you thought the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was doing more harm than good. Are fish stocks best protected in a coordinated fashion through the EU, or is the red-tape and bureaucracy of the CFP precipitating an environmental catastrophe? The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently updated its review of the state of world marine fishery resources. Globally, the situation is continuing to deteriorate, with 87 percent of fish stocks estimated to be fully exploited or overexploited in 2009, compared to 85 percent in the previous year.
We had a range of comments responding to our earlier post, some strongly critical and others more optimistic (and you can get an idea of some of the basic arguments for and against a Common Fisheries Policy in our InfoBox here). Most people, though, seemed to accept that the status quo was unsustainable and that mistakes had been made in the past.
Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Fisheries, to put some of your questions and comments to her. Commissioner Damanaki is responsible for reforming the CFP, so would she agree that it had been a failure in the past? Van Patten sent in a highly critical comment arguing that: “the CFP has contributed to arguably one of the greatest environmental catastrophes on record… it has been an unmitigated disaster, on economic and environmental grounds.” How would the Commissioner respond?
The next comment we received on this topic came from Tim Worstall, who suggested: “We could in fact do what has saved, as an example, the Alaskan halibut fishery: Tradeable Individual Quotas. Not dissimilar from what Norway, Iceland and the Faroes (all safely outside [the] absurd CFP) do.“
Next, Ron Patz (who has written about CFP on his blog) gave us a question on Twitter:
Next, we had a question sent in from Christos arguing: “If one region is over-fished then the EU should impose stricter quotas or even a ban on fishing in those waters until the stocks are back to a healthy population. Only local fishermen can continue fishing in those waters, but following a strict quota… [In that way] the local fishermen are also protected against the larger fleets and the fish are being given a chance to replenish their numbers.“
Finally, when we interviewed Isabella Lövin, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Swedish Green Party, she stressed the importance of long-term planning for fisheries management: “I think having multi-annual fishing management plans – which has been proposed by the Commission – is key. You should not have management on a year-to-year basis. They realised this in the US and in New Zealand and Australia, and they did something about it.” Would the commissioner agree that longer-term planning is key, and is she optimistic that it will make it into the reforms?
What do YOU think? If we accept that mistakes have been made in the past, can the Common Fisheries Policy still be reformed? Could transferable fishing quotas help prevent waste? Or a full discard ban that forces fishermen to land everything they catch? And do you think that both the European Parliament and EU member-states can be made to agree on these reforms so they might eventually see the light of day? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.
Maria Damanaki is European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Formerly, she was president of the Greek Synaspismos party of the radical left.