COMMON FISHERIES POLICY REFORM DEBATE – WWF Scotland sets out priorities –

COMMON FISHERIES POLICY REFORM DEBATE – WWF Scotland sets out priorities Published:  22 September, 2011

As the Scottish Parliament prepares to debate the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) today (Thursday) WWF Scotland urges MSPs to commit to supporting reform that is ambitious and progressive.

Dr Mireille Thom, Marine Policy Officer at WWF Scotland, said: “The success of the reform of the CFP will determine whether Scotland can play its full part in delivering healthy marine ecosystems that sustain abundant fish stocks and a stable fishing industry. Only last week the importance of the fishing industry to Scotland was revealed with £435m of fish landed in Scotland in 2010, making it a considerable part of the Scottish coastal economy. It is therefore vital Scotland is at the heart of the CFP reform. [1]

“The Commission’s own Green Paper acknowledged that the existing CFP is over-centralised, top down, complex and has a short-term approach to fisheries management.  This has led to over-investment in the fleet, over-fishing, discarding and poor compliance. The result is an imbalanced marine environment, depleted fish stocks and alienated stakeholders.  Now we have a rare opportunity to change the system.

“WWF’s ‘More Fish’ campaign roadshows are currently travelling across the country and we have been delighted at the high level of public support for our campaign for meaningful reform of the broken CFP.”

The Commission’s proposals, published on 13 July, make some progress towards sustainability – such as spelling out clear conservation objectives and multi-annual plans – but too much has been left to chance, says WWF, and much work needs to be done by Ministers and MEPs over the next 18 months to secure progressive reform.

What WWF says is missing from Commission’s proposals are:

• Crucial delivery mechanisms, time-frames and responsibilities for developing long term management plans.

• More detail on how fisheries management will be decentralised to harness the expertise of local stakeholders who are best placed to make local decisions.

• A real solution to discards. Even though WWF Scotland welcomes the Commission’s intention to find a solution to the issue, we believe a more sophisticated approach than the proposed discard ban is required for this highly complex problem. We need to reduce by-catch  to a minimum, catch what can be commercialised and make better use of what is caught.

WWF Scotland’s priorities include:

1. Sustainable management – every commercial fishery must be managed under a long-term management plan designed to ensure the sustainable management, recovery and rebuilding of fish stocks and marine ecosystems.

2. Effective regionalisation – fisheries must be managed regionally, linking fishing rights and responsibilities to improving ecosystem health and enhancing the economic resilience of the fishing fleets in order to achieve environmental and economic sustainability.

3. Improved quality – an integrated and coherent set of policies across the supply chain, so that fishermen catch what’s needed when it’s needed, avoiding waste and adding value at all stages along the way, from net to plate.

4. Fair fishing abroad – the principles of the policy must apply to all European fisheries and fishing boats wherever they operate in the world’s oceans.

 [1]  Scottish fishing industry statistics

 [2] WWF Scotland More Fish Campaign