Aquaculture for all

Common Fisheries Policy Review Under The Spotlight


EU - European fisheries ministers will be meeting in Vigo, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This informal meeting has been preceded by a fisheries sector conference in A Corua.

Although the new CFP is not due to come into effect until 2013, the Spanish Presidency wants to start to focus the debate and come up with ideas for the first formal debate at the next Fisheries Council, to be held at the end of June in Luxembourg, so that the Belgian Presidency can get underway on 1 July with the groundwork already done.

The European Commission is scheduled to present its legislative proposal in 2011, which must be approved by the Council and the European Parliament before it can come into effect.

The CFP is one of the oldest EU policies along with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The first common fisheries measures were established in 1970 when it was agreed that all EU fishermen should have equal access to all the other member states' waters.

The current policy is a result of the 2002 reform, aimed at guaranteeing sustainable exploitation of live aquatic resources. To ensure that fishing pressure does not exceed the limits that fish stocks can sustain, it includes conservation measures, such as total allowable catches (TACS), and rules relating to fishing gear and minimum landing sizes.

It also includes methods to limit the environmental repercussions of fishing and to control fleet capacity. However, some problems still remain and medium-term solutions must be found.

In 2008, the Commission began a review of the CFP in order to analyse the successes and errors of the current policy and studying other fishing management systems, to establish possible guidelines for the future. In April 2009, it began a public consultation on the future of the CFP, with a Green Paper.

During this six-month period, the Spanish Government intends to promote a means of managing fishing activities that will ensure economic, social and environmental viability and also monitor the exploitation of fisheries resources using criteria relating to sustainability and socio-economic and ecosystem objectives.

The EU has a considerable number of agreements with third countries which give access to fishing waters of third countries. After the reform of the CFP in 2002, the agreements were transformed from access arrangements with a financial contribution to genuine partnerships for the development of sustainable and responsible fisheries.

The Community is party to international agreements in the areas of fisheries and law of the sea and plays an important role in a number of regional fisheries organisations, which manage fish resources of the open seas and play an important role in the fight against illegal fishing and destructive fishing practices.

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