Brussels has announced a major overhaul of its much derided Common Fisheries Policy. The European Commission insists the new reforms will end overfishing, protect jobs and result in sustainable fish stocks. In particular, the EU wants to end discarding, or the dumping of fish at sea, when skippers go past their legal quota.
EU fisheries chief Maria Damnaki said: “We are going to bind ourselves to reach maximum sustainable yield until 2015. So this will become a legal obligation of our acts.”
It is estimated that more than 70 percent of all fish stocks in the EU are currently over exploited. Green groups like Greenpeace say only a major reduction in Europe’s fishing fleet will arrest the current trend of dwindling stocks.
Greenpeace EU Fisheries Policy Director Saskia Richartz said: “What we also need is a slimming plan to reduce the EU’s oversized fishing fleet, and that is missing in the proposal. In the Council, we have many large fishing nations like Spain, like France and Italy, and they have to really realise that unless they make steps to recover fish stocks, this reform will fail.”
Spain has by far the largest fishing industry in the EU, obtaining most of its catch outside its own waters. The UK, Italy and France are also some of Europe’s biggest fishing nations.
Despite Brussels insisting the current system is unsustainable, fishing leaders have criticised the new legislation saying it will lead to big cuts to fishing fleets and jobs.