Published Thursday, 23 September 2004

CFP Briefing No 19 

The provisions for stock recovery plans within the ‘basic’ Common Fisheries Policy Regulation (2371/2002) are one of several positive developments that came out of the 2002 CFP reform. Together with provisions for management plans for stocks within safe limits, it was envisaged that this would spell a move away from the annual horse trading over total allowable catches (TACs) in the December Council that has led to fishing limits being set at levels above those recommended by scientists, contributing to depleted stocks.

Strategic fisheries management planning provides opportunities for stabilising management, stakeholder participation, environmental integration, and application of the precautionary approach. Such planning is essentially intended to identify broad long-term objectives for managing fisheries, followed by more specific targets and management measures to achieve the stated objectives. Plans also provide an opportunity to spell out arrangements for implementation, such as describing the respective roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders and the necessary monitoring, research and evaluation arrangements. For these reasons, scientific advisors and environmental groups have been calling for recovery plans for a number of years.

One and half years after the CFP reform there are now two recovery plans in place; one for cod and the other for northern hake. The December 2003 Council saw agreement and adoption of the cod recovery plan (Regulation 423/2004). The northern hake recovery plan (Regulation 811/2004) was also agreed politically in December 2003, but adopted in April 2004 following the opinion of the European Parliament. Now that both plans have been adopted and published in the Official Journal it is a prime moment to consider the details of the plans and the extent to which they live up to the new CFP framework Regulation 2371/2002.