Published Thursday, 12 December 2002

CFP Briefing No 8 

One of the central elements in the Common Fisheries Policy reform proposals concerns limiting fishing effort or fleet capacity, in order to achieve a real reduction in fishing pressure. While national fleet capacity or effort would be capped, targeted reductions would be secured within the confines of stock-specific multi-annual management plans. Whether fishing effort is reduced by limiting the time vessels spend at sea or the capacity of the fishing fleet overall, balancing EU fishing effort with available resources will necessarily have implications for the EU fishing industry.

The Commission Action Plan to counter the social, economic and regional consequences of the restructuring of the EU fishing industry follows a commitment given in the Commission’s ‘Roadmap’ on CFP reform. One of the stated purposes of the Action Plan was to provide more detailed and precise estimates as to the implications of the reform package, whilst identifying existing opportunities to cushion the socio-economic impacts resulting from the reforms. The Action Plan is also intended to outline additional means and options that could be generated over the longer term.

Despite its title, however, the document lists few concrete actions to be taken by the Commission or the Community as a whole. Rather, it outlines possible avenues available to the Member States as regards existing EU funds, and only very general options to support restructuring beyond 2006, when the new EU aid programmes are developed. This may be an honest approach to the situation, but one that is unlikely to provide great comfort to the fishing industry.