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Ecologist Warns Of CFP Effects

by the Fish Site Editor
11 July 2011, at 1:00am

GERMANY and EU - German marine ecologist, Dr Rainer Froese, comments on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) stating that it will systematically keep European fish stocks at the edge of collapse.

Europe and especially Germany often consider themselves as forerunners in combining economic success with high level environmental protection standards.

Dr Rainer Froese, marine ecologist at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) of Kiel, Germany, comes to a different conclusion regarding Europe’s CFP.

The CFP has systematically decimated fish stocks in Europe, even more so than in the rest of the world, and since decades a rigid alliance of European fishing lobbies, Ministries of Agriculture and national fishing administrations prevents real reforms, Dr Froese writes in the current issue of the renowned scientific journal Nature.

In his article he presents results of interdisciplinary research about fishery management in the Kiel cluster of excellence "Future Ocean“. His conclusion: The CFP keeps European fish stocks systematically at the edge of collapse.

"That causes harm to everyone. Fish stocks are close to extinction, fishers have problems catching the few remaining fishes, and consumers have to pay twice for every fish, because fishers get high subsidies from tax money“, explains Dr Froese.

For Dr Froese the sad situation of the European fish stocks is not inevitable. In 2010, he joined forces with economists and lawyers and published a blue-print for future European fisheries management, which would allow recovery of the stocks and simultaneously higher profits for the fishers. This blueprint was based on experiences in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

“These countries have precautionary fishing targets and they close fisheries when stocks enter the slope to collapse”, says Dr Froese. “After the reform of their fisheries policy, profit margins of fishers in New Zealand increased to about 40 per cent, whereas profit margins of fishers in Europe are only about three to six per cent.”

On 13 July 2011 Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries since 2010, will officially publish a proposal to reform the CFP.

"This proposal which is based on the 2009 green paper on the reform of the CFP, is a big step in the right direction“, says Dr Froese.

“Internationally agreed reference points will finally be recognised in Europe, allowing the stocks to grow away from the edge of collapse. Discarding of perfectly good fish for bureaucratic reasons will be phased out.“

Still the proposal falls short of the reforms that have been enacted in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, stresses Dr Froese. "Europe will have no precautionary margins and will gradually reduce fishing pressure only when stocks are on the slope to collapse, with no default rule for closing a fishery. Where the other countries have phased out or drastically reduced subsidies, the Commission only proposes to reshuffle subsidies.“

He fears that the positive elements of the Commission’s proposal will be weakened by the national Ministries of Agriculture. "It’s the Council of Ministers who determines the CFP, that is, the past, present and future of European fish and fisheries.“

the Fish Site Editor