Debate on rights-based management tools welcomed –

Debate on rights-based management tools welcomed Published:  08 April, 2008

MEPs have welcomed the fact that the European Commission has opened a debate on Rights-Based Management (RBM) in fisheries in anticipation of the necessary modification of the existing management policy, and that it has put out a call for tenders to allow for a full study of the various management systems.

The European Parliament Fisheries Committee recognises, however, even in advance of such a study, that “it is evident that there is a wide variety of such systems in place and that most, if not all, employ some form of RBM, if this is taken in its widest sense.”

It recognises, likewise, that “experiments with management through fishing rights in Member States which have applied such systems have had very positive consequences in many respects”, for example in terms of capacity reduction.

At Community level and within at least some of the Member States, the forms of RBM employed are hybrid ones, in terms both of the allocation and transferability/tradability of the rights and of the way in which their extent is defined, the fisheries committee report acknowledges.

The report on rights-based management tools in fisheries, by Scottish Liberal Democrat MEP Elspeth Attwooll also prompts the reaction from MEPs that the system has a “degree of complexity involved and the difficulties this poses for movement toward a single system”, whether achieved through harmonising the practices of Member States or by its administration at Community level.

MEPs, the committee adds, share the concerns of many stakeholders and consider it necessary to ascertain the effects which changes, particularly the introduction of Community-wide Individual Transferable Quotas and other rights-based access, might have in relation to the degree of concentration of ownership of such rights and the resulting socioeconomic consequences; advantages that could accrue to large companies at the expense of small-scale operators or community-based fisheries; the fear that additional costs may be involved, providing disincentives towards investment in vessels, gear, safety and working conditions; the likelihood of quotas being held at one remove from those actively engaged in fishing; the problems inherent in achieving an initial allocation and in conferring a windfall benefit on those to whom the allocation is made; the risk of an excessive concentration of rights.

“These concerns must be addressed prior to any move toward a single system, for example, the possibility, as shown by existing precedents, of setting a limit on the accumulation of fishing rights,” concludes the committee. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.