Reforms to Common Fisheries Policy

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Viewers of Hugh's Fish Fight on Channel 4 earlier in the month may be aware that the EU has published revisions to their Common Fisheries Policy following an apology for what has gone before.

In a statement at the issue of the proposed reforms, Maria Damanaki, the EU's Maritime and Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, admitted that Europe's Common Fishing Policy (CFP) had failed and created a "vicious circle" where overfishing was endangering fish species.

Currently the policy results in up to 75% of a catch being discarded, whilst 88% of all European fish stocks overfished compared with just 25% worldwide. An independent group “New Economics Foundation” estimated that between 1963 and 2008 over 2.1 billion cod alone were discarded.

The commissioner said: "Our system is not working in favour of sustainability…it is also not working for the EU either. If we don’t make structural changes we will lose one fish stock after another.”

"We cannot afford business as usual. Maybe 10 years ago, the past, it was easier for us, in the European Commission, in governments, in the sector, to close our eyes. We cannot do that any more because if we do our children will see fish, not on their plates, but only in pictures. If it's business as usual, in 10 years only eight out of 136 stocks will be healthy."

Among the proposed reforms are a gradual phasing out of discards, with fleets required to land all their catch and use them towards their quotas. Undersize fish will still not be able to be used for human consumption; and there will be increased support for small scale fisheries.

There will also be an increased reliance on scientific information to guide policies and a decrease in fishing fleets, increased reliance on sustainable aquaculture and a decentralisation of fisheries decisions.

The reformed policy will come into effect in 2013.

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