What is new in fisheries
Since 2010 I have been leading the change toward a new Common Fisheries Policy, with the full support of the College – but without neglecting to improve the current policy at the same time.
One of the main novelties is the way in which we now negotiate fishing possibilities with EU Member States. Significant progress has been made in setting the fishing opportunities for each year: decisions on Total Allowable Catches and quotas for the most commercial fish stocks are now firmly based on scientific data.
From now on, science will be behind each and every policy move. Unless we take the time to look at the hard data on the state of fish stocks in our waters, no informed – or indeed credible – decision can be made.
So we have asked the scientific community to bridge any data gaps for as many stocks as possible by the end of 2012 – my ultimate goal being the long-term, sciencebased approach for all stocks and for mixed fisheries that I promised when I took office. We are now about to propose new longterm plans for pelagic fish and cod in the Baltic Sea.
For the Mediterranean region, we have been implementing the Mediterranean Regulation and getting Member States to comply and introduce their own management plans. For some stocks, we have started multiannual plans that phase out destructive fishing practices. One of my main concerns is that the consumption of juvenile fish and its illegal fishing have devastating effects on fish stocks, preventing them from reproducing at a normal pace. And this awareness is now growing among consumers too.
At international level, we were able to enforce legislation more systematically now that all seas and all European vessels are covered by a single, overarching control framework. If a Member State exceeds its quotas, it will not escape a rigorous system of quota deductions. We have also introduced a catch certification system for the fish we import from outside the EU. We have carried out dozens of inspections and audit missions in third countries to evaluate and improve their certification systems.
We set out to close existing loopholes in the legislation concerning the banning of shark finning and a proposal on this is due to be adopted soon. A strict control and inspection programme on bluefin tuna has also been carried out every year to monitor all aspects of the fishery, enforce the rules and ensure the stock’s recovery from overfishing.
Deep-sea fish, that are extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure, have been at the centre of our efforts to phase out destructive practices. Although the state of important stocks like black scabbard fish and roundnose grenadiers has been improving lately, we want to make sure that their fishing is fully sustainable and has minimum impact on the fragile deep-sea environment. In 2012 the EU became the first fishing party in the world to envisage the protection of the deep-sea environment at regulatory level by adopting a proposal to phase out bottom trawling and bottom-set gillnets in this particular fishery.