Press Release

The EP Fisheries Committee, Commissioner Damanaki and ITQs


OCEAN2012 letter to the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee, May 11 2010

Subject: Extraordinary meeting of the Fisheries Committee, Strasbourg 17th May 2010

Dear Member of the Fisheries Committee,

On May 17th the Fisheries Committee will address the controversial issue of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) in the CFP reform. The Commission’s stated objectives for introducing a European ITQs market is to reduce overcapacity, to improve conservation and to maximise the economic efficiency of the fishing fleet. While we recognise that the economic drive supporting this approach may result in some fleet reduction, there is no evidence that ITQs translate into consistent recovery of stock biomass. We therefore wish to share our position on the Commission’s proposal with you, based on the following concerns:

  • An EU wide trading system will not support the objective to decentralise the current governance structure and will make it more difficult to adapt fisheries management systems to regional and local circumstances;
  • If Member States lose national holdings of fishing quota, they may become disenfranchised from the strategic objectives of resource conservation of the CFP, resulting in an erosion of political will to ensure good governance, control and proper regulation of fisheries activities;
  • An EU wide ITQ market may increase the level of speculation in the market place for quotas and rights trading, particularly amongst non-fishery actors, thereby threatening the prospects for genuine fishers and fishing communities to access resources and sustain their livelihoods. In fact, such a system runs the risk of privatising what is currently a public resource; and
  • A Community-wide system of ITQs does not provide access to those who fish in the most sustainable way but to those actors with the best access to financial resources. It is therefore unlikely that such a system will encourage the industry to behave more responsibly, or to effectively self-regulate or self-manage their fishery activities.

For the above stated reasons, OCEAN2012 does not support the European Commission’s proposal for the establishment of an EU market for ITQs. Rather, we recommend that access to fish resources be based on a set of transparent criteria for environmentally and socially sustainable practices, providing priority access for fishing operators who:

  • Use more selective fishing methods and gears with low environmental impact;
  • Use vessels and fishing methods consuming less energy;
  • Ensure intensive and good quality employment; and
  • Have a good record of compliance.

To inform your discussion with Commissioner Damanaki concerning the management of fishing resources and access, we enclose a copy of the report, “Environmental and social criteria for allocating access to fisheries resources”. The report presents a number of short case studies from several countries which already apply this type of criteria for preferential access.

OCEAN2012 hopes that our position on an EU market for ITQs and the report may help you in your upcoming exchange with Commissioner Damanaki.

Yours sincerely,
Uta Bellion
OCEAN2012 Co-ordinator

Related information

  • Download this letter
  • Environmental and Social Criteria for Allocating Access to Fisheries Resources, March 2010, commissioned by the Pew Environment Group, on behalf of OCEAN2012,  written by Chris Grieve, Executive Director, Meridian Prime.
    78 pages; 1.5 MB 
    Executive summary
     / Full report

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