NGOs advise EU Ministers against mandatory TFCs
Brussels, 25 April 2012. Ahead of the Fisheries Council meeting this week, Seas At Risk together with the Fisheries Secretariat sent an open letter to the Ministers, urging them not to support the mandatory use of market based Transferable Fishing Concessions as a way to regulate access to fisheries.
In their meeting that lasts two days, the Fisheries Ministers will discuss two key issues of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Besides the question of how access to fisheries should be regulated and who should be given the possibility to fish, they will also address the question to what extent and in what ways fisheries management can be decentralised to regional bodies. In addition, they will have a debate on the socio-economic dimension of the CFP.
The European Commission proposes to oblige Member States to allocate fishing opportunities to their fleets using a system of Transferable Fishing Concessions (TFCs), with the aim of tackling existing overcapacity in European fisheries. TFCs are a specific, market-based type of allocation system which can lead to a decrease in the number of active fishing vessels, but which does not, on its own, ensure that the remaining fleet operates in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The Commission proposals on TFCs are close to a compulsory near-privatisation of marine resources and will result, without the appropriate safeguards, in a concentration of fishing rights in the hands of the economically most powerful actors, rather than those who fish more sustainably.
Instead, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat advocate a criteria-based approach, where access to fish resources is based on a set of transparent criteria for environmentally and socially sustainable practices, rewarding those who perform well against these benchmarks.
The Fisheries Ministers will also address the generally acknowledged need of a more regional approach to fisheries management. The proposal of the European Commission on this issue lacks detail, leaving it unclear as to how regionalisation will work in practice and which institution would be responsible for what.
Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat believe that effective regionalisation should mean greater flexibility and sharing responsibility of implementation, which could be delivered through the adoption of fishery-based multiannual plans developed by stakeholder groups representative of the fishery which is the subject of the plan. Overall objectives and requirements for the plans should be agreed through co-decision procedure at EU level, while each regionally developed multiannual plan should be checked against these overall requirements and adopted by the European Commission. However, such an approach requires that the current disagreement between Council and European Parliament over co-decision procedures are resolved.
To read the letter and for more information on the positions of Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat:
To find out more about the reform of the CFP