Committee guide: Without common fisheries policy, there would be no more fishermen in EU

Parliament's fisheries committee is firmly committed to making the common fisheries policy work, says Alain Cadec.

Alain Cadec | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Alain Cadec

11 Apr 2017

1. What do you see as the committee's main achievements in the first half of the current mandate, and what do you see as its principle priorities for the remaining two and a half years?
The reform of the common fisheries policy was completed in 2013. As such, the first half of this legislature was devoted to implementing this reform. Parliament's fisheries committee is working on three key topics: maximum sustainable yield, regionalisation and compulsory landing.

Maximum sustainable yield is the cornerstone of the common fisheries policy. It consists of ensuring - on the basis of scientific assessments - sustainable exploitation of fish stocks. This principle must be integrated into the multiannual management plans which we have been working on since 2015. 

A pilot project has already been approved for the Baltic sea with others soon to come for the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Channel, the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. This will help plan long-term management measures and therefore give fishermen visibility.

The second topic is regionalisation. This is about adapting certain technical rules of the common fisheries policy to the various regional specificities, while respecting a common framework. This concerns, for example, the size of fishing nets. The aim is to bring greater flexibility and encouraging development of innovative fishing vessels.

Since 2015, fisheries policy dictates that fishermen must land all their catches, even those that are banned from the market. This was set up to end ocean disposal, which generated a huge amount of waste. 

However, this rule has caused many problems and hinders the competiveness of many fishing enterprises, which are not equipped for such a fundamental change. As such, the landing obligation is inapplicable. We need to relax this rule and help fishermen invest in more selective vessels.


2. What do you believe are the main challenges and issues facing the committee for the remainder of the current legislature?
By 2019, we must set up management plans for all European maritime waters. It's important to ensure a clear and predictable framework for fishermen, to allow for ecologically sustainable and economically competitive fishing. 

This will also require updating rules on controls, with further harmonisation. In addition, we must start work on the future European fishing fund, which is set to succeed the European maritime and fisheries fund in 2021. And of course, Brexit.


3. What impact, if any, will Brexit and other events such as national elections in France, The Netherlands and Germany, have on the committee's work?
Brexit will have a huge impact on fisheries; many European fishermen fish in British waters. Ending free access to these waters would have grave socio-economic consequences for the fishing sector. Also, many UK fishermen are dependent on the European market to sell their products. I hope that during the negotiations, we can find a mutually advantageous agreement.

Parliament's fisheries committee issued a clear message: the issue of access to British waters for European vessels, and the issue of access to the European market for British products, are inextricably linked. In addition, fishing must not become a bargaining chip during the talks.


4. How can citizens become more engaged in what your committee does and how can you better communicate its work to voters and stakeholders?
Without the common fisheries policy, there would be no more fishermen in Europe. Thanks to the EU, a long-term management system has been established that allows sustainable fishing that both preserves fish stocks and ensures the competitiveness of fishing enterprises. This benefits consumers, who have access to quality fish products that are sourced locally and fully respect high environmental, social and health standards.


5. Are you concerned by the apparent reduction in the legislative output of the Commission in recent weeks and months due to the Refit exercise? Do you expect this to continue and will this impact on your committee's workload? If so, how?
The reduction in legislative proposals has had a limited impact on Parliament's fisheries committee.

Several dossiers are crucial for the proper implementation of the new common fisheries policy - for example, technical measures, multiannual management plans and updating control rules. We certainly aren't short on work.


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