EU fishing fleet faces call for big cuts –

EU fishing fleet faces call for big cuts Published:  21 April, 2009

THE European Commission is expected to call tomorrow for big cuts in the size of the EU fishing fleet if fish stocks are to be made sustainable.

Leaked reports of a Green paper on the Common Fisheries Policy suggest that fishermen should also be given more say in managing stocks.

The report comes amid growing unrest among fishing nations including the UK over issues such as discards and quotas, which led to a major French protest and blockade of the Channel ports last week.

But other proposals in the Green paper such as cutting fuel subsidies and increasing the number of inspections are not likely to go down well with fishing crews and their owners.

The report says up to 88 per cent of EU stocks are fished beyond their maximum sustainable yield – the highest catch that can be maintained over an indefinite period – and for some, such as North Sea cod, the vast majority of fish are caught before they have reproduced. Fishermen would end up richer, the commission concludes, by reducing catches until depleted stocked recover – but the system is set up to ensure short-term profits are the driving factor.

It recognises that achieving sustainable catch levels means working with fishermen, encouraging them to develop their own methods of sustainable management and creating incentives. One option raised is expanding the using the Icelandic system of transferable quotas, where fishermen ‘own’ the right to fish for many years, so gaining from managing the stock sustainably.