UK Government

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs: UK submits response to European Commission Green Paper on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

Press Release   •   Dec 23, 2009 11:21 GMT

The UK Government has today submitted its official response to the European Commission’s green paper on reforming the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The UK Government response outlines key changes the UK wishes to see in a radical reform of CFP. These changes include:

·         More responsibility at regional levels to bring decision making closer to those managing fisheries;

·         Greater flexibility and clearer rights for fishermen to help them manage their businesses and fish quotas and to help reduce the waste of discards;

·         More opportunity for industry and other partners to be involved in fisheries science and management and in marine policy making more generally;

·         Long-term conservation of the marine environment, upon which healthy fish stocks depend, to be at the heart of a reformed CFP and support for wider environmental aims including conservation of important marine areas or species; and

·         Extending the principles of sustainable and responsible fisheries internationally to secure global future food security.

UK Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:

“Our vision for fisheries is to have healthy fish stocks and a healthy marine environment while supporting the fishing industry and the communities it serves. A new CFP is essential in achieving this vision so we must grasp this opportunity to make the changes needed on the way our fisheries are managed.

“What fishermen need is to be able to plan for the long-term and adapt to changes in the economy and the environment, as any sound business should. We want fishermen to have greater flexibility in how they fish, landing more but catching less, and to have greater freedom to transfer, buy or sell quota so allocations match what happens at sea, helping to reduce discards.”

The UK response sets out how changes to fisheries management and rights to fishing opportunities across member states may need to be changed to allow the UK fishing industry to benefit from new economic opportunities. In a reformed CFP the UK Government wants the flexibility for fishermen to be able to better plan their business. This cannot happen at the moment as the current CFP means the industry has to adapt at short notice every year to changes agreed in Europe.

The UK Government’s response also explains how the wasteful practice of discards can be further reduced by moving decision making to regional and local levels so that regional plans better reflect the circumstances in each area and improving the way in which fishermen’s catches are recorded.

Mr Irranca-Davies continued:

“For the UK to make a strong case for these changes I want to work with the industry and with all those with an interest in our seas. Throughout 2009 we have been speaking to a range of people who have an interest in reforming CFP to help us prepare our response.  I look forward to continuing to work with the fishing industry and others across the UK over the coming months as we develop our ideas and arguments, and as the reform agenda takes shape.”

Notes to editors

The Common Fisheries Policy is the European Union policy that controls fishing activity across all 27 Member States. The current CFP has been in existence since 1983 and the Commission published the green paper for discussion on reform in April 2009.

  • The UK Government response to the European Commission’s green paper can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/fisheries/marine/conservation/fstock/cfp-reform.htm
  • The European Commission’s green paper can be found at www.ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/review_en.htm
  • A new Common Fisheries Policy is due to be agreed in 2012.
  • The fishing industry in the UK contributes approximately £650 million to the economy per annum.
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