On 28 May, the European Commission published its long-awaited, controversial proposal for the reform of the EU fishery policy. The document was preceded by a lively debate on Spain’s involvement in efforts to influence the Commission.
On 28 May, the Commission finally issued its proposal. It remains a very controversial one. The reform aims to promote a more sustainable fishing and to reduce the current over-fishing by 40%. To achieve this, the Commission proposes:
- stricter rules to ensure that changes in the national fleets do not increase the total fishing capacity, e.g. no vessel would be allowed to enter the fleet until an equivalent capacity has been withdrawn without public aid;
- technical changes, to help protection of young fish (e.g. larger net mesh, or bans on fishing in some areas during a certain time of the year)
- a multi-annual programme, instead of the present yearly programme, to better plan the protection of certain species;
- improved control and surveillance and tougher and more uniform sanctions against fishermen who break the rules, a compliance scoreboard would be posted on the internet to help bench-marking.
In addition, the proposal suggests the abolishment of public aid for new vessels and for renovation of old ones. This money should instead go to encourage fishermen to change profession.
The proposal states that ca 28,000 fishermen, representing ca. 11% of the industry, could be affected by the measures.