Edinburgh Conference Points the Way for a Reformed CFP

16th November 2009 in Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

NFFO Chief Executive, Barrie Deas, one of the speakers at the recent RAC conference on decision making within a reformed CFP, said:

“This conference, involving six regional advisory councils, provided a clear steer on how, in the view of the major stakeholders, the CFP should now evolve.”

“The need for a significant regionalisation of the CFP was pretty much taken as a given and most of the discussion focused on how to make this, and a high degree of industry self-regulation, a practical reality.

“Getting people in the room with experience of delegated regulation –like Australia – was extremely helpful in understanding how such an approach could work within the CFP.”

“We should not fool ourselves that moving from an over-centralised top down system, to one with a high degree of delegated authority will be easy or straightforward. But the fact is that the current CFP is discredited. Continuing on the track we are on reduces the prospect for sustainable and profitable fisheries in the European Union. The question now is not status quo or change – it is what kind of change and how can we implement it successfully. In this regard the conference was very valuable”

“The conference produced a massive number of useful suggestions on how to proceed. Legal, economic, governance, fisheries management, NGOs and fishing industry perspectives all had something to contribute. The different RACs will now prepare their advice on the reform of the CFP Green Paper, armed with this knowledge and that advice will be stronger as a result.”

“The concrete examples from outside the European Union for me point the way. In Australia we were told of a facility through which fishing industry bodies can progressively take on blocks of management responsibility, thereby reducing the role of central control. This is done in a rational, systematic, way which provides safeguards for fisheries managers but also for fishermen. Essentially, groups of fishermen can contract with government to manage their fisheries in conformity with certain agreed standards and preconditions and then are left to get on with it, subject to periodic audits. Giving fishermen in the European Union the option to move in this direction is, I think, the way to simplify the CFP, to develop genuine stewardship for the resource, break with the one-size-fits-all micro-management system.”

“It is ideas like this and approaches like this that should be at the heart of the Commission’s proposal on CFP reform at the end of next year. Much will depend on an internal battle within the Commission between the reactionaries who think that political will and an intensification of the present technocratic approach will deliver the goods, and reformers who recognise that the top-down, command control approach is behind many of the CFP’s failures, its complexity and its rigidity.