Advice to fisheries ministers for their May meeting
Brussels, 03 May 2012. In an open letter to EU Fisheries Ministers ahead of their Council meeting 14-15 May, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat are urging Ministers to manage harvested species at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) and are advising them to use a greater share of the fisheries subsidy package to improve data collection and controls.
Rebuilding fish stocks to a biomass level that exceeds MSY will sow the seeds for sustainable European fisheries and bring not only environmental, but also socio-economic benefits. A recent study by the new economics foundation (nef) found that restoring 43 European stocks to levels that can produce MSY would generate more than 3 million tonnes of additional landings and could support around 100,000 new jobs. It is therefore of key importance that the fishing mortality rate is immediately reduced to levels that will restore and maintain populations of all harvested species above levels which can produce MSY by 2015. For those stocks where this is biologically impossible, a timetable must be set for each stock for achieving these population levels.
The Ministers will also discuss the proposed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). - the financial tool that intends to steer European fisheries towards a sustainable future. In the current proposal only a small allocation of the funds is earmarked for data collection and control in order to support Member States in their management efforts, whilst the majority of funds are currently envisaged to benefit a handful of individual operators rather than the entire fisheries sector or society at large.
However, public funds made available for the European fisheries industry should ensure to create public goods and services. Therefore, the funding should also only be made available to recipients that following the objectives and rules of the CFP. Additionally, in order to support the CFP objectives, no funding should contribute to an increase of fishing capacity nor to the maintenance of current overcapacity. Therefore, funding for fleets, vessels and gears should be made conditional upon adequate assessment of fishing capacity in relation to available fishing opportunities.
To read the letter on the May Council and for more information on the positions of Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat: