CFP Reforms: The direction for Fisheries: It’s not the fishermen’s fault!

Jim Portus BSc, CMarTech, FIMarEST
Chief Executive since 1989 of South Western Fish Producer Organisation Limited (SWFPO)

5, Pynewood House, 1a Exeter Rd, Ivybridge, PL21 0FN
Chairman UK Association of FPOs (UKAFPO)
Chairman Fishstock Brixham

M: 07860 542071

An Overview

“The reform will tackle the biggest problem of the Common Fisheries Policy, which is continued overfishing.” So said Ulrike Rodust, MEP and member of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament on the 30th May 2013, the day on which the EP approved the texts of the new (2012) CFP.

The SWFPO came into being in 1974 amongst other things to ensure that fishing is carried out along rational lines and that conditions for the sale of members’ production are maximised. The Organisation, along with the many others formed about that time in the fisheries regions of the Member States, was firstly an instrument of the Common Market in Fisheries Products. Rules common to all EU POs require their members to act in full accord with the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. If those objectives are ill-defined and vague, then fishermen’s compliance with them cannot be held to blame as the cause of the failings of the various incarnations of the CFP since 1983.

Soon after fisheries quotas were first applied in 1983, POs in the UK became instruments of quota management for the Ministry of Fisheries. A benign relationship developed whereby the POs followed a set of mutually agreed Rules and in return the uptake of national quotas has been kept close to or below 100%.

Of course, fisheries management is not just about the Total Allowable catches (TACs) and national Quotas. About 60% of all SWFPO production is of non-quota species, notably Scallops, Cuttle, Squid and Lemon Sole. Of these, Scallops are regulated by the Western Waters Effort arrangements of 1992 (revised 2002). This non-quota imposition of CFP objectives is an unwelcome and nightmarish “horse designed by committee” that had nothing to do with sustainable exploitation and everything to do with politics.

In applying its production and marketing rules to members, Producer Organisations are concerned only with the first marketing stage after landing. This is true even under the newest CFP and issues of traceability from the market to the consumer and of onward disposal of discards under the landing obligation are not matters of obligation for Producer Organisations.

My talk will explore further the complex relationships between Producer Organisations and Member State government Departments in the quest to deliver the manifold and vague objectives of the incarnations of the Common Fisheries Policy since 1983.