A majority of fisheries ministers at Council today said they oppose making transferable fishing concessions (TFCs) mandatory in the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
“We could hear that the proposal from the Commission about having mandatory TFCs was questioned a lot by the member states,” the Danish fisheries minister, Mette Gjerskov, said at a press conference after a discussion among fisheries ministers in Council this morning.
Majority call for voluntary TFCs
Most member states – including large states such as Germany and France – raised objections to the European Commission’s proposal of introducing mandatory TFCs as a way of letting market forces take care of the necessary reduction of overcapacity in the EU fishing fleet.
Introducing TFCs should be voluntary, since a one-size-fits-all approach does not take into account the varying contexts in each country, and it should be up to each member state to decide how they allocate fishing opportunities, ministers said.
Several member states that already have TFCs – such as Denmark and Estonia – said they were very happy with their systems of transferable quotas, but that it should still be up to each member state to decide if they want TFCs or not.
Some member states support TFCs
Still, there was a number of member states – such as Sweden and Spain – whose ministers said they clearly support making TFCs compulsory, as long as there are safeguards that protect the coastal fleet and exclude the small scale vessels from tradable quotas. The Spanish minister said that TFCs would be especially suitable for the long distance fleet and that quotas should be tradable between member states. The Italian minister, on the contrary, said that if TFCs are introduced they should only be tradable within a specific region within a member state.
Alternatives to control overcapacity
“Overcapacity is the problem. We have to adapt capacity to the level of available fishing opportunities,” said Maria Damanaki, the Fisheries Commissioner. The member states that opposed mandatory TFCs should present other alternatives on how to reduce overcapacity, she said.
Denmark presented one such alternative, in which each member state would be obliged to report on their capacity and present measures on how to reduce overcapacity. If such a plan is not presented, the member state should be excluded from financial support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), according to the Danish proposal.
Videos & documents from the Council meeting 27 April 2012
> Press conference
> Video of the entire meeting (you can click the flags below the video to select which intervention you want to see)
The discussions were based on a set of questions written by the Danish presidency.
Related article: Fisheries Committee debates transferable fishing concessions