The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy - Presentation before the European Economic and Social Committee
European Economic and Social Committee
Brussels, 6 October 2011
Commissioner Maria Damanaki presented the Commission proposals for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy at the public hearing organized by the European Economic and Social Committee.
Presentation [831 KB]
Dear President, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to have the opportunity to present to you some of the main elements of my CFP reform. My presentation today will not cover every aspect of it. What I rather want to do is explain to you how I believe we can together achieve sustainability. Environmental sustainability, because the health stocks is prerequisite for everything. But also social sustainability. I am going to show how this can also deliver the social and economic sustainability that you are rightfully demanding for the people working in our fishing industry.
Let's start with some facts: there are fewer and fewer fish in the sea.
Catches have constantly gone down since the nineties.
This is the proof that we have simply fished too much. We have thrown away fish we don't want to land or for which we don't have quotas. And we have used taxpayer's money to build up an obese fleet.
The result is that today seventy-five percent of our stocks are overfished.
According to our impacts assessment, if we don’t break this vicious circle only 8 fish stocks out of 136 will be sustainable by 2022.
This would be an economic disaster for our fishing industry, particularly small-scale fishermen, who cannot easily move to other waters.
We will loose a lot more jobs, and not just in the catching sector: also in processing, transport, port infrastructure and retail - with a negative knock on effect for our coastal regions.
This will be the reality without a reform and we cannot let this happen.
Let me therefore give you in a nutshell my vision for the future: I want to go for sustainability as a whole. I am talking about environmental sustainability by moving to MSY 2015 and phasing out discards. I am talking about social sustainability, because with moving to MSY and phasing out discards we will build up healthy fish stocks in our waters and this in itself is the best way to increase our fishermen's income. It is an investment into our fishermen's future.
We have to get there by modernising the way we take decisions. I am proposing Regionalization where Parliament and Council take leading decisions on long term plans and framework technical measures with basic rules. Then the fishing industry should work hand in hand with the national administrations to set more detailed rules on mesh sizes, area closures etc. The RACs should also be involved here.
I want to empower the fishing industry so that they can bring in their know how and I want to give them the proper support to market their products and enhance their negotiating position towards the rest of the supply chain. You will see this when the Commission adopts the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund on 30 November. So this is the reform in a nutshell.
Let me now explain more in detail how I want to deliver this sustainability with MSY and the discard ban. These two instruments are an absolute must if we want to be successful.
First MSY: I mentioned that we need to move to MSY 2015. I have on several occasions stressed that we signed up to it in Johannesburg in 2002. But let's leave our international obligation aside for a moment. Some speakers today will tell you that it cannot be done. Well, let's sit back then for a moment and look together at concrete examples where Member States and fishermen have already delivered in the direction of MSY. I am talking about Eastern Baltic cod, I am talking about anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, North Sea Herring and Northern hake. These are just four examples. In all these fisheries fishermen have gone through difficult times with reduced quotas or even a complete closure.
But after a few years the harsh times were over, because quotas were increased and so did the fishermen's income. Since July this year fishermen in France and Spain are catching anchovy again. Since 2010 fishermen in the Baltic Sea are able to fish much more eastern cod and I am proposing a further increase for 2012.
So you see that working towards MSY can be done and we have done it in a number of fisheries. This ladies and gentlemen is the way to increase fishermen's income in a sustainable way. This is the way to keep jobs in the fishing industry and this is the way to keep jobs in the ports and in processing.
This is not wishful thinking, but it is based on our own impact assessment for the CFP reform and it is based on the findings of an internationally renowned study by the World Bank called "The sunken billions".
According to the World Bank we are worldwide loosing 50 billion Dollars with short term fisheries management. If we rebuild fish stocks we can generate an extra 2,7 billion Euros for our fishing industry. Our modelling exercises confirm this: managing stocks sustainably leads to 17 percent more catches, profit margins three times higher, and returns on investments six times higher!
This is how I plan to achieve social sustainability.
Second, the discard ban: We have to stop waste by stopping to chuck fish overboard that is already killed. Discarding is morally and environmentally unacceptable and if we don't take the decision to stop discards, then the consumers will take that decision for us. They are becoming more and more concerned with sustainability issues – and quite rightly, in my opinion.
This is why I propose to phase out discards gradually in all fisheries in a step by step approach. We will accompany this with better gear selectivity and with proper support for the industry to implement it.
Via Regionalization industry and Member States can set all the necessary measures to avoid catching unwanted fish in the first place. Fishermen across Europe have already proven that a majority of them does not want to throw fish overboard. There are numerous initiatives by fishermen themselves to fish in a more selective way. With my proposal what is hauled up in the nets has to be landed. If it is undersized fish then it goes into fishmeal production. If it is oversize fish then the fishermen can sell it for human consumption and they will keep the profits from this sale.
This is how we have to invite the fishing industry to work together with us to make this discard ban a reality. With the ban over time we put less pressure on the stocks and the fish will become bigger and fetch better market prices bringing more profits to the fishing industry.
This is how I plan to achieve social sustainability.
I can already see some of you asking me: and what are we going to do in the meantime until we reach this social sustainability?
Let me outline to you how I want to finance the transition. You have already seen my proposal for a new Market Organisation and right now my team is working full steam ahead on the new Maritime and Fisheries Fund. With these two instruments I will support innovation, sustainability and smart growth in coastal areas.
Fishermen will get incentives to implement the discard ban via storage aid. They will also get financial support for participating in trials on more selective gears. They will receive the financial gain of over quota fish. I will also financially support fishermen, who help us in collecting data, be it biological data or socio economic data. I will financially support training and professional qualifications.
I will fund diversification so that small scale fishermen have a second leg to stand on, for example diversification into marine tourism, angling etc. I will financially support social dialogue meetings for small scale fishermen, so that they can network and exchange best practises and ideas. I am going to financially support spouses and life partners of self employed fishermen if they want to set up their own business like doing the book-keeping of the fishermen's business or buying a minivan to supply local restaurants with fresh fish. I will fund marketing initiatives, so artisanal fishermen could for example develop their own product brand such as "Your Local Fishermen".
I will also fund the producer organisations or other associations of fishermen to give them a stronger role vis-à-vis the wholesalers and to help them get better prices for their fish. We will fund safety measures for small scale vessels and measures improving the working conditions and hygiene on board. And let me tell you that for all these measures the small scale fishermen will receive a higher co funding part. Finally I am going to give aquaculture a real financial boost for growth in both inland waters and in coastal areas.
This Ladies and gentlemen is my answer to your question, this is what I want to do to help fishermen through the transition to social sustainability.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am coming to the end of my intervention and I would like to say a few words about transferable fishing concessions. Three Member States that have introduced transferable concessions have achieved something in four years that the CFP has not achieved in 15 years. They have decreased the fleets by about 30%.
Over the years we have tried to reduce overcapacity, by setting targets and by scrapping fishing vessels with close to 1 billion Euro between 2000 and 2006. And what was the result – an increase of 3% per year in fishing capacity, because while many vessels are scrapped others became more modern.
If I was a school pupil I would say that in a few weeks from now we will get our report card from the Court of Auditors and the grade will not be a good one. They criticise the way we spent taxpayer's money on our fleets as inefficient and not delivering what it was set out to do, namely deliver a fleet that is better adapted to our resources.
Against this background you can maybe understand why I proposed transferable fishing concessions. But I know that many among you are worried and point to negative developments such as too much concentration and that the safeguards we foresee will not prevent this. I understand your worries and I am convinced that we need to be very careful here. My team is therefore looking into this issue in detail now. But what is crystal clear ladies and gentlemen is that we cannot continue with scrapping fishing vessels via EU funds, because it is too expensive and it has not delivered.
Dear Committee Members, ladies and gentlemen,
I have not spoken in detail about aquaculture, regionalisation or my vision for the external policy. This does not mean that they are not vital in this reform, to the contrary. I am happy to answer any questions you may have on these issues in our discussion today.
Let me in the end stress that every element we laid out in this reform is designed to better manage fish stocks and therefore preserve the income of fishing communities.
I know there is a lot of scepticism and worry. And maybe you have your own doubts.
But know this: Some countries are already ahead of us in adopting modern, sustainable policies that deliver good results for both the industry and the oceans. We can't afford to be left behind.
Europe deserves sustainable fisheries and more stable jobs.