Friday, July 05, 2013
EU Fisheries policy reform
The European Union's Common Fisheries Policy in its' present form is an extreme example of an area where it would have made sense to have a rational common policy but the one the EU has is an utter disaster. Fortunately it appears at very long last to be on the verge of genuine reform.
As Britain's fisheries minister recently said, "Fish don't have passports." They swim from one country's territorial waters to another and back again. That's why a rational common fisheries policy would be a very good idea.
Unfortunately the one in place at the moment is a very bad idea.
On the European Commission's own figures, no less than an average of 23% -
- yes, 23%, and that's an average: the figure is higher in some fisheries -
of the fish caught in EU waters are thrown back into the sea as "discards."
That is an environmental and economic disaster.
Fortunately, many years after it should have been done, the EU is at last proposing to substantially reform the policy, including a ban on discards which will begin to be phased in and enforced from 2015, and the end of the system of control which created the incentive to throw the fish back.
Further, the proposal will repatriate a significant amount of control to national authorities in how they administer the policy, particularly with within national 12-mile limits.
This proposal has been through the Commission and the Council of Ministers: it still needs approval from the European Parliament and I hope it gets it because the new policy while not perfect is a huge step forward from the ridiculous policy in place now. Indeed it could provide a model for the repatriation of powers.