The Commission says that fishermen and other interested parties from the sector, but also scientists, civil society and interested citizens, are invited to respond and have their say until 31 December 2009 on the future face of European fisheries. The consultation is the first step of the process which should bring about a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg said: "We are asking questions even on the fundamentals of the current policy and should leave no stone unturned. We are not looking for just another reform. It is time to design a modern, simple and sustainable system for managing fisheries in the EU, which is able to last well into the 21st century."
The purpose of the Green Paper adopted today is twofold: raise awareness of the challenges faced by the sector in recent years; and elicit a public response which can grow into a new, innovative and more consensual approach to fisheries regulation. It raises questions such as: How can we ensure the long-term sustainability and the viability of fisheries? How can overall fleet capacity be adapted while addressing the social concerns faced by coastal communities? How can a culture of compliance be further developed? How best can the CFP contribute to fisheries sustainability beyond EU waters?
The Paper analyses all the facets of fisheries policy today and explains why some problems persist despite the progress made since the reform of 2002. One of the main problems is the depleted state of European fish stocks: 88 per cent of stocks are overfished (against a global average of 25 per cent) and 30 per cent are "outside safe biological limits", i.e. they cannot reproduce at normal rate because the parenting population is too depleted.
Yet in many fisheries we keep fishing 2 or 3 times more than what fish stocks can sustain. This is mostly as a result of fleet overcapacity. Such overcapacity is in fact economically inefficient because not only does it deplete stocks but it also constantly drives the industry's profits down. Solutions need to be found to restore the worst-off stocks and at the same time guarantee that fish can continue to be a reliable source of revenue for fishermen.
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