“Without a reform, the prospects are really grim”

The panelists at the seminar "No fish left on the plate – Why a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is needed"

The European Commission today presented new analyses showing that the price of a weak CFP reform will be very high for the economy and the ecosystems. At the same event, scientists, industry and NGOs also spoke on the urgent need of a CFP reform.

Video below.

The Commission has analysed what will happen under different scenarios over a time horizon until 2022, and the results were presented today, June 22, at an event in the European Parliament.

If the EU were to continue along the path of today’s legislation, only 9 percent of our fish stocks would be at sustainable levels by 2022, according to the analysis. “The other stocks would be heading towards collapse,” fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said.

“If we don’t act now, we will lose one fish stock after the other”, the commissioner said, adding that the consequence would be “that the industry will face even more economic pressure. We will lose jobs, but not just in the fishing sector itself: also in the processing industry, in transport, in port infrastructure, at auctions… down to packagers and retailers. And all of us, as consumers, will end up with less fish on our plates.”

It may seem clear from this analysis and from an overwhelming body of research that a reduction of overfishing is urgently needed, but Damanaki pointed to the lack of political will in Europe to start making long term decisions.

“Change will not be possible without support from Members of the European Parliament, Member States, NGOs, industry and consumers,” she said.

Professor Callum Roberts, marine conservation biologist, made a presentation of the history of overfishing that has led to today’s precarious situation. He said the worst damage to our seas was done before the CFP was introduced in the 1980’s, but the CFP has done nothing to improve the situation. “The good news is that marine ecosystems are resilient and can recover,” he said.

Guus Pastoor, head of the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association, said that today’s system of setting catch quotas annually is not only bad for the environment but also presents a high financial risk. Establishing long term management plans for all fish stocks would let fish stocks regrow, and would also lead to a more stable supply situation with stable prices, which the industry wants.

Other speakers at the conference were Alex Olsen of fish processing company A. Espersen, Tony Long of the WWF and Galician small scale fisherman Luis Rodriguez.

Axel Naver

Links:
Commissioner Damanakis speech
The slides from prof. Callum Roberts presentation

Full video from the conference (summary also available):

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