EU Commission discusses “plan” to exceed CFP’s 2020 fishing limits agreement

The Guardian reports, 10th March 2016: Fishermen could soon be given carte blanche to over-fish without needing to worry about restoring fish populations to a healthy state under a leaked European Commission proposal seen by the Guardian.

If it is approved, the blueprint for the Baltic Sea could soon be applied to the North Sea too, potentially threatening the future of some cod species, MEPs say.

The plan would add exemptions to catch limits that are supposed to become mandatory by 2020 and practically remove a commitment to restoring fish stocks to healthy levels by the same year.

“With this proposal over-fishing will continue and, in a worst case scenario, [Baltic] cod will disappear. It is that serious,” Linnéa Engström, the vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee told the Guardian. “We already know that the Baltic is a vulnerable sea. There are problems with salinity and oxygen levels and some fish stocks are doing very poorly. The scientists don’t know why they are not recovering as they should. They say that some fish stocks are in such a poor state that it is not possible to do a proper evaluation.”

The Common Fisheries Policy, which was reformed in 2014, sets the principle that over-fishing must end by 2020, in order to restore and maintain fish stocks at healthy levels. But the new proposal would allow fishing above those levels, conservationists argue.

The new plan would replace a current “maximum sustainable yield” of fish that can be caught each year with a flexible formula containing upper and lower ranges. Exemptions to catch levels would be allowed where these could protect fish from harming themselves or each other, and also in “mixed fisheries”.

Lawyers say that the Commission’s plan, which has been recently shared with MEPs on the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, would breach the EU’s current commitments on sustainable fishing.

The Commission drew up the proposal after taking soundings from EU countries in the European Council. But the European Parliament is restive on the issue and has the power to block and amend legislation.

Source: The Guardian 10th March 2016. For the full text, see

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