Fish reform creates buzz

IN THE NEXT few months there will be a lot of noise about fish. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is being reformed and businesses, environmental groups and celebrity chefs will be ramping up their efforts to lobby for a “robust” reform of the out-dated and controversial system.


The CFP has been in place for three decades and undergone two reviews. However, according to some sources, 75% of European fish stocks are currently overexploited, which is having a devastating impact on both the marine environment and fisheries-dependent communities.


Businesses have been urged to take a more active role in negotiations and help tackle controversial issues such as ‘discards’. At the World Fisheries Congress recently, the Prince of Wales called for “urgent and collective action” from all stakeholders to save disappearing fish stocks.


The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit charity also published a joint declaration on action for wild marine fisheries, backed by more than 120 organisations including fishing-industry bodies, fish suppliers, retailers and non-governmental groups.


OCEAN2012, an alliance of organisations dedicated to transforming European fisheries, has also launched European Fish Weeks. Running from now until the end of August, the initiative involves citizens across Europe organising public events across the EU to raise awareness of overfishing and of decision-makers’ responsibility to end it.


According to a poll by WWF, 88% of Europeans say fish products within the EU should come from stocks that are not overfished. Indeed, the NGO believes there is a huge appetite for change among European consumers who want better access to more sustainable fish. The poll, carried out by YouGov across Europe and Focus Bari in Greece, also showed that 78% of Europeans support a reform of the CFP.


There is also plenty of other data out there supporting the need for change:

* For the past 30 years, annual fishing quotas have been set one-third higher than recommended as safe by EU fishery scientists.
* The value of restoring fish stocks to healthy levels could be worth 3.2billion Euros per year to the EU.
* The European Commission’s latest figures indicate that there is less overfishing of assessed EU fish stocks, but there are also fewer stocks that can be reliably assessed.


Over the coming weeks and months will be bringing you all the latest news, analysis and exclusive comment on CFP Reform.