Some Good News on Overfishing
The European Parliament has approved a package of major reforms to the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), designed to cut waste and stop overfishing in European waters.
Under the current legislation, fishing crews that haul in more than the agreed quota often throw large quantities of dead fish back into the sea – as they are not allowed to land the fish. The current system is called Total Allowable Catches (TACs), launched in 1983 is at the heart of the EU policy and is based on the each country’s previous catches.
We all know why changes have to be made – cod for example is has declined by 70% over the last 10 years, European fishing fleets have grown too large and are now too efficient for the dwindling fish stocks and fishery ministers have been reluctant to see their national quotas (TACs) cut. However, without the proper controls, there is a risk that surplus fish landed will simply be sold and incentivise overfishing.
The current system is also not meeting the European market’s needs. Fish imported from non EU countries now accounts for two-thirds of fish sold in the EU.
The Proposed Changes to the EU Common Fisheries Policy
In the approved package, in future fishing crews will have to land their entire catch. This is good news; surely discarding perfectly healthy dead fish back into the sea can’t be right and isn’t going to help. The commission says that fisheries should be managed on an ecosystem basis- with more flexibility in the system and scientific data should be collected on a larger number of fish species.
So, discards from 2014 should be phased out and the plan to start MSY (maximum sustainable yields) approach will be phased in by 2015. More has to be done, this is only the start.
A good start – but you can help stop overfishing now
It will be two years minimum before these proposed changes begin to phase-in, and doubtless there will be problems with non-compliance and policing the new rules. In the meantime there are concrete actions you can do to hep stop overfishing:
- If you must eat fish, buy a wider range of fish and avoid species that are endangered
- If you take fish oil supplements, opt for an algae omega 3 alternative.
- At your supermarket fish counter, make staff aware that their employer also needs to act responsibly to help create consumer demand for lesser known species. You might be surprised how some staff will acknowledge your concern and demonstrate knowledge about the subject. Their feedback makes it back to supermarket bosses surprisingly often
- Join Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign – get involved and show your support.
* MEPs back fishing policy reform – Guardian