The Pew Environment Group's European Marine Programme contribution to the consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The Pew Environment Group welcomes the Commission's Green Paper and the early opportunity to provide input into the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Pew shares most of the Commission's analysis of the failures of the current CFP: European Union (EU) fleets are able to catch far more fish than can be sustainably harvested, catch limits are set far above scientific advice, opaque decision-making processes without clear guidelines and benchmarks prevail and large parts of the sector are characterised by a culture of non-compliance with the rules of the CFP, undermining the effectiveness and credibility of EU fisheries management.
At the same time, the combined Exclusive Economic Zone of the EU is larger than that of any single country. The EU also has one of the largest fishing fleets in the world operating in every ocean and is the world's largest importer of fisheries products. The EU is a contracting party to almost every Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) and plays a significant role in the development and implementation of global oceans governance. However, to date, the EU has not lived up to its responsibility and stated goal of promoting sustainable fisheries. More than 30 percent of assessed EU fish stocks are now outside safe biological limits and more than 80 percent overfished; this compares to a global average for overfished stocks of 25 percent.
Fishing is the single most significant human activity currently impacting marine ecosystems. The 2012 reform of the CFP is therefore a unique opportunity to restore the balance between fish stocks, fishing activities and the marine environment in Community waters and beyond. Any failure to show the required political will for a root and branch reform will only accelerate the collapse of fish stocks, degradation of marine ecosystems, and the further decline of the fishing industry.