“Meeting the EU’s food needs involves more than simply protecting the catching sector”

Maintaining a supply of fish to the processing industry is vital for the wider economy and requires an integrated policy across the supply chain, write Guus Pastoor and José Ángel Mozos of the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association. They call for mandatory long term management plans and the removal of trade barriers for fish from third countries.

Members of AIPCE-CEP (EU Fish Processors and Traders Association) are major players in the EU market for fisheries products. The processing industry represents 130.000 employees, 4.000 enterprises and a production value of around €20 billion. It is mostly located in coastal areas and contributes to maintaining economic activity in these areas. The activity of fish traders and associated businesses who supply services to the processing industry also make a significant contribution to employment and wealth creation. Therefore ensuring adequate supplies to these industries is vital for the social and economic sustainability of the wider economy.

For some time, AIPCE-CEP members have been actively working to ensure that the fish we supply is from sustainable sources. For example, we were heavily involved in the establishment of the EU’s regulations to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. As part of this sustainability agenda, we have consistently argued that the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy must be radically reformed.

We have therefore joined forces with WWF, EUROCOMMERCE and EUROCOOP to call for the 2012 CFP reform to deliver a workable EU sustainable fisheries management policy. The reforms needed are as follows:

Mandatory Long Term Management Plans (LTMPs)

For all EU fisheries by 2015. These plans must meet clear minimum standards set out in the new Regulation and should aim to achieve centrally agreed targets and assess environmental impact in order that sound fisheries management decisions can be made. These plans would move us away from the politically motivated annual quota negotiations towards management based on sound science and enable a more stable course towards long term recovery and abundance.

Effective Regionalisation

All stakeholders, including Member States, industry, scientists and environmental interests, must be at the heart of the decision making process. We can accomplish this with a more decentralised management system. The mandatory requirement for LTMPs should facilitate this with Regional and Member State level fisheries plans being developed by broad stakeholder groups and co-management of the fisheries at Member State level once the plans are agreed. Once fishermen and other stakeholders are more directly involved, they will become a key part in the design of workable and effective fisheries management strategies that will ensure the EU meets its sustainable fisheries policy commitments.

Maximising Value from Catch to Consumer

Catching fish for which there is no market is the worst possible waste of resources. The CFP needs to take much greater account of consumer concerns by delivering sustainably sourced supplies, at prices and qualities which customers want, with the volumes and stability which the market needs. This requires better connections and integrated policies across the supply chain, and a clear focus on efficiency and added value at all stages.

It also means focussing on meeting the EU’s future food needs (in terms of safety, quality, nutritional value, affordability and security of supply) rather than simply trying to protect a catching sector that cannot meet the demands of EU consumers. Thus measures that seek to protect EU markets from third country competition are outdated and should no longer be part of EU policy.

CFP Principles

To apply to all fisheries in EU waters and beyond. This includes the Mediterranean and when EU vessels fish throughout the world’s oceans.

Concluding Remarks

Fisheries are a valuable and renewable (low carbon) source of protein, increasingly important in terms of EU and world food security. The objective of the CFP should be to maximise this potential and rebuild stocks to meet future demand, not simply to manage the status quo.

This will require an integrated approach bringing together fisheries management, policy on the marine ecosystems and supply chain issues. Efficiency and rational economic operation must also be key policy drivers, in order to maximise the value of this unique natural resource.

Guus Pastoor
President of AIPCE
José Ángel Mozos
President of CEP
Personal facts

AIPCE is the EU Fish Processors Association, CEP stands for the EU Federation of National Organisations of Importers and Exporters of Fish. AIPCE and CEP work together on the basis of a Co-operation Agreement.

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