Fischler launches sustainable fisheries debate

EU commissioner calls for new orientation in common fisheries policy to tackle problems

EU agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler today called for a "new orientation" for the bloc's common fisheries policy (CFP), aimed at strengthening its environmental effectiveness while doing more to help vulnerable fishing communities. The Commission would publish a green paper with options for the CFP's future early next year, Mr Fischler said.

The CFP has become an increasingly inefficient policy tool, the commissioner accepted during a seminar on sustainable fisheries in Brussels. "Every year we restrict catches, adopt technical measures such as mesh sizes, work out fleet reduction programmes, monitor compliance with the rules," he said. "And despite this, the state of many economically important fish stocks has been a cause for concern for many years."

Last month, the Commission warned that efforts to reduce fishing fleet capacity in line with renewable stocks were failing (ENDS Daily 10 May). Ministers last year agreed big cuts in allowable fishing levels for 2000, though these were still less than recommended by the Commission (ENDS Daily 17 December 1999).

The forthcoming green paper would seek to tackle long-standing problems with the CFP, Mr Fischler said today, and particularly fishing fleet overcapacity, since current programmes "have not proven sufficiently effective in tackling this scourge of most fishing industries". The paper would also focus on weak implementation of CFP measures in the Mediterranean, where some 40% of the EU's employment in fisheries is based.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and information on EU fisheries policy. See also Commission press release (IP/00/664) and Mr Fischler's speech (SPEECH/00/246), both on Rapid.

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