EU Finally Moves To Sustainable Fisheries

Every 10 years, the EU updates is Common Fisheries Policy, and for the first time, it voted (473-52) for serious reform of fishing practices. 

Greenpeace UK calls it a game-changer.

  • Finally, there is a legally binding commitment to fish at sustainable levels. Annual quotas will be set based on scientific evidence to rebuild fish stocks and end over-fishing.
  • Bans discarding healthy, edible fish that are thrown away because of quotas
  • Gives priority access to fisherman that use sustainable practices
  • Regulates how European fisherman operate outside of home waters 
  • Takes a regional approach to managing fisheries, rather than the centralized one-size-fits-all approach that has prevailed
  • Reforms fishing subsidies
  • Fish must be labeled to give consumers better information on what kind of fish they are buying, and on how and  where they were caught.

"Sustainable fishing means above all practical measures to eliminate overfishing and control fleet capacity while allowing fishermen to live from their work," says EU rapporteur Alain Cadec.

"Our reformed fisheries policy is putting European fisheries on a sustainable footing once and for all," says Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. "To get there will mean radical changes for our fishermen and the whole sector, which needs our financial support.

"We will co-fund concrete projects in member states to help fishermen and coastal communities develop a sustainable seafood industry – from the net to the plate."

About 90% of the world’s largest predator fishes are gone. Only eight of 136 fish stocks in European waters will be at sustainable levels in 2022 without this level of action.

Member states have to set sustainable fishing quotas that enter force in 2015. A well-funded European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will enforce quotas and help fishermen comply by subsidizing investments in selective fishing gear or equipment that facilitates handling, landing and storage of unwanted catches.

In another decision, the EU Fisheries Council voted to ban fish imports from Belize, Cambodia,and Guinea for failing to cooperate in fighting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing. 

The EU banned large-scale fishing for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and east Atlantic in 2010.

In the
US, Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a global conference in June, "Our Ocean," to address the three major threats to oceans – overfishing, marine pollution (nutrient runoff from farms that creates dead zones; plastic debris that forms the Pacific gyre and other garbage patches) and ocean acidification. People from over 80 countries are expected to attend: senior government officials, scientists, industry representatives, environmentalists and foundations.

As a Senator, Kerry worked to curb drift net fishing and shark finning, and wants to elevate ocean issues on the global policy agenda. The US will announce new funding initiatives and policy targets as part of the event, reports the Washington Post.

Palau Bans Commercial Fishing

Palau may not have the might of the EU, but the country is setting a precedent by banning all commercial fishing in its waters and turning its 200 nautical miles into a marine sanctuary.  

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. wants economic development to come from tourism, not from depleted fisheries. When fishing contracts with Japan, Taiwan and
some private companies expire, only island residents and tourists will
be allowed to fish.

His announcement comes as a surprise because other countries in the region depend heavily on revenue from foreign fishing nations.

But compared to tourism, the money from fishing is a drop in the bucket, he says. And Palau’s natural resources have much more value than dollar signs. Turning the ocean into a marine sanctuary will preserve Palau’s "pristine environment," making it attractive for sustainable activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and ecotourism.

In 2009, Palau created the world’s first shark sanctuary, banning commercial shark finning in all its waters. It also has the most restrictive law against bottom trawling. It plans to enforce the total fishing ban using radar and drones.

Palau has a population of about 20,000 people spread across 250 islands near Indonesia and the Philippines.

Read our article, Suffering Oceans Get Biggest Donation Ever From Bloomberg.

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