Ministers: “We support MSY, but…”

Most member states want to delay an end to overfishing. This became clear when fisheries ministers met in Council today, Monday 14 May.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki & Spain's fisheries minister Miguel Arias Cañete.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki & Spain's fisheries minister Miguel Arias Cañete. Photo: Council

As fisheries ministers discussed how to achieve the goal of maximum sustainable yield(MSY), it became clear that almost all of them want to reach this goal later than 2015, which is the year the Commission has proposed.

Most interventions followed a similar pattern. “I support MSY as a goal,” ministers said, one after the other. Then they added a three-letter word: “But…”.

But we cannot do it by 2015. But we want to add the words ‘where possible’. But we cannot do it with stocks shared with third countries. But it is difficult in the mixed fisheries of the Mediterranean. But we have to consider the socioeconomic consequences.

Socioeconomic aspects
The last point is interesting, of course, since there is evidence that rebuilding fish stocks to MSY levels quickly would benefit the fishing industry. The results in a recent report by OECD showed considerable economic gains from rebuilding fisheries. Similar conclusions can be found in the Commission’s CFP impact assessment and a recent report by the New Economics Foundation.

Those who shout the loudest
If reaching MSY quickly leads to more profitable fisheries, why do ministers refer to socioeconomic aspects and say they do not want to reach MSY by 2015?

“They are probably thinking of those that are shouting the loudest: those who are profiting from high quotas and overfishing today, those who are the ones that benefit from lobbying that pushes for overfishing,” said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director, and added: “If you listen to small scale fishermen that fish sustainably you get a clear message. They want to recover fish stocks as fast as possible.”

In the end of the reform process, the Council and the European Parliament will have to agree on a compromise. The proposal by the Parliament’s rapporteur, Ulrike Rodust, is that fish stocks should be restored and maintained above MSY levels by 2015.

At today’s meeting, ministers also discussed some aspects of the new subsidies regime, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, EMFF.

Documentation
> Watch the recorded video from the Council discussion on MSY
> Written summary of each minister’s intervention by Ronny Patz on his blog

Axel Naver

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