NFFO backs regionalisation of CFP –

NFFO backs regionalisation of CFP Published:  30 May, 2012

ENGLAND’s National federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) feels that, more than a decade after it started to back the idea, regionalisation is finally gaining momentum as a counterbalance to the crippling over-centralisation of the CFP.

The organisation feels that their goal took a step forward recently, when six member states agreed and presented a paper to the Council of Ministers and won broad support from other member states.

Although the NFFO feels the paper bears the hallmarks of a compromise document, it nevertheless presents a reasoned and convincing case for member states in a given regional sea to work collaboratively with the RACs and scientists to deliver well thought through multi-annual plans for the management of the fisheries in that area. If agreed unanimously, the management plan would be presented to the Commission with the expectation that it would be translated into legal form through delegated acts that would be accorded to the Commission. If there was no unanimity, the plan would have to take the long and laborious route through adoption by the Council and European Parliament through co-decision.

Although is this is not the perfect form that could be imagined for CFP regionalisation, say the NFFO, it is a mechanism that if adopted as part of the CFP reform could:

•Speed up fisheries decisions.

•Bring the RACs right into the heart of policy formulation process.

•Break down the compartmentalisation that has afflicted relations between the fishing industry, fisheries managers and fisheries scientists.

•Allow measures to be dropped or changed if they clearly don’t work (contrasting with the present arrangements that are unresponsive and inflexible).

•Allow a decisive movement away from micro-management and a failed command and control approach.

•Tailor management measures to fleet and fisheries characteristics.

•Build support for management measures by those they affect.

However, according to the NFFO, several potential obstacles remain:

•The Commission may object to their room for manoeuvre (although not their right of initiative) being constrained.

•Having just been given co-decision powers, the European Parliament may try to cling on to some aspects of micromanagement.

•The high level principles, standards and objectives which will still be adopted at European level may contain too much control over the detail of multiannual plans.

•A lot of the practical detail on how regional level cooperation would work remains to be worked out.

•The transition from the current body of inherited legislation to new comprehensive management plans will have to be negotiated.

•In the North Sea, the role of Norway in the development of multi-annual management plans will have to be defined and agreed.

Despite the difficulties, the organisation feels this remains the best chance in a generation for a decisive change in the right direction for European fisheries management. If regionalisation is derailed it won’t be because of the fishing industry or the environmental NGOs , or the RACs, have hampered it but because the politicians fail to deliver.

 A crucial test for whether regionalisation of European fisheries is going ahead will be at the Council of Ministers meeting in Luxemburg on June 19. The Danish Presidency will attempt to secure agreement on a “General Approach” on the main CFP reform themes, which will essentially be the Council of Ministers negotiating mandate as it enters Trialogue with the Commission and European Parliament. The outcome of this will seal the fate of the CFP – until the next reform in another 10 years.