EU fisheries vice-chair says by-catch distribution plan would be ‘disastrous’ Published: 15 March, 2012
MEP Struan Stevenson, vice chair of the EU Fisheries Committee, is to present his draft report on the Common Market Organisation in fisheries products next week in the European Parliament.
He has presented a preview of his report in an article for the CFP Reform Watch in which he says The Commission plan to distribute by-catch to NGOs and charities would be disastrous and have a direct impact on the market.
There are 214 Producer Organisations (POs) in the EU. Brussels should offer a basket of options for day-to-day management, from which the Member States can choose the most appropriate for their own particular fishery. POs can play a more meaningful role in management issues including the allocation of quotas and the management of effort.
Transferable fishing concessions (TFCs) should be voluntary rather than mandatory and Member States must have the flexibility to allocate rights over only a 7/8-year period, rather than 15 years. Member States must also have the final decision on whether such rights are tradable at all.
Criteria must be clearly defined on the minimum number of members a PO can have to be viable. Smaller POs should be merged.
Trans-national POs should be encouraged in zones like the Irish Sea, the Mediterranean and the Baltic, so that everyone would benefit from common and binding market rules.
The internationalisation of POs or the creation of transnational associations will enable companies to become competitive at international level, to meet the 2020 strategy to create new markets outside the EU.
On discards, POs will play an important role. Long-term management plans should have measures for catch quotas, technical measures, and real-time closures, to eliminate by-catch. The Commission proposal to use POs to distribute fish that otherwise would have been discarded, to NGOs, charities or people on social welfare benefits, would be disastrous and have a direct impact on the market, depressing prices further. At best, such fish could be used for bait or for the fishmeal and fish oil industry, with sufficient compensation paid to fishermen to cover their costs in landing these otherwise surplus fish. There should also be financial assistance from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to get lower value and less familiar fish products onto the market.