No sea change for European fishing

Jun 08, 2012 by Yann Ollivier
People demonstrate in 2011 in front of EU headquarters in Brussels in favor of restoring fish stocks. An ambitious reform of Europe's fishing sector to help replenish shrinking fish stocks appears likely to be watered down substantially by European Union nations, diplomats said Friday

An ambitious reform of Europe's fishing sector to help replenish shrinking fish stocks appears likely to be watered down substantially by European Union nations, diplomats said Friday.

Sources said ministers from the 27 EU nations meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday were headed to reach a much-diluted compromise on proposals for far-reaching reform drafted by Europe's Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.

She has repeatedly called for "a real break with past practices" but diplomats who asked to remain anonymous said the ministers were unlikely to meet her targets at the talks.

The reforms are to come into force in 2014 after approval by the .

Due to the depletion of , boats are forced to sail further and further afield to cast nets and Damanaki had argued strongly for the end to the status quo.

According to a report this week, 80 percent of fish in the are over-fished though the situation is improving in where overfished stocks have dropped from 94 percent in 2005 to 47 percent this year.

A key plank in Damanaki's proposals was to convince EU ministers on June 12 to introduce "transferable fishing concessions" to fish certain stock, and enable those quotas to be traded privately at a national level.

That was seen as a way of making more responsible about the sustainability of and of encouraging small players to quit the industry.

Similar systems of have enabled Denmark to reduce its fleet by 30 percent in four years and have kept the fishing sector healthy in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Norway, she has said.

But diplomats told AFP that a compromise solution being circulated would be to give countries a free choice on whether to adopt the system.

A goal to replenish fish stocks by 2015 too has been watered down with a "calendar that is becoming widely accepted saying 2015 if possible, but 2020 at the latest."

"If it's business as usual, in 10 years only eight out of 136 stocks will be healthy," the commissioner told AFP last year.

"I'm not an environmentalist, I'm not a fisherman, my job is to find a balance so that we can fish in the future, so our children will have fish."

Another, and possibly the most controversial of her ideas, was to end the practice of throwing fish caught by accident back into the sea -- a practice known as discards.

Brussels wanted fishermen to bring all catches to port and deduct discards from quotas -- while turning them into fish flour -- so as to encourage fishermen to adopt better practices.

But one diplomat said Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal were likely to oppose the idea which is highly unpopular with boats that go out to sea for days at a time.

Leaks on the compromise agreement expected at next week's talks outraged several environmental lobby groups on Friday.

Should the 27 ministers agree to the compromise they will "settle for a European fisheries policy of the lowest common denominator, without any ambition to achieve sustainable fisheries or save fishing jobs," said six NGOs -- BirdLife Europe, Greenpeace, Oceana, Ocean2012, Seas At Risk and WWF.

"The proposed deal would not stop the depletion of fish stocks for another decade," they said. Yet a US policy overhaul "has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve the recovery of fish stocks within a limited period."

Explore further: Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU sets fish quotas for 2007

Dec 22, 2006

The European Union fisheries ministers have set the 2007 limits for fish catches in European waters.

EU OKs tougher penalties for illegal fishing

Oct 20, 2009

(AP) -- The European Union agreed Tuesday on tougher penalties to counter illegal fishing, considered a major cause of the depletion of fish stocks in European waters, particularly of prized cod and bluefin tuna.

Politics is driving fish stocks to collapse

Nov 15, 2011

Stocks of fish like cod and herring are likely to collapse within 40 years if European fisheries ministers continue to ignore scientific recommendations on how much fish should be caught each year, warn researchers.

British cod stocks rebounding

Oct 22, 2007

Researchers say cod stocks around Britain have rebounded enough to permit small catches in the North Sea, The Times of London reported Saturday.

Recommended for you

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

11 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

18 hours ago

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

19 hours ago

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

Apr 23, 2014

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

Humpback protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

Apr 22, 2014

Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific ...

Maine baby lobster decline could end high catches

Apr 22, 2014

Scientists say the number of baby lobsters settling off the rocky coast of Maine continues to steadily decline—possibly foreshadowing an end to the recent record catches that have boosted New England's lobster fishery.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Jun 09, 2012
One reason to wish for the end of the Euro is that it will also lead to the end of the EU and its irrationalies such as the "Common fisheries policy".

More news stories

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...