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EU deal will ‘restore fish processors reputation’

By Jenny Eagle+


Public confidence will be restored thanks to the reformation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), effective January 1, according to The Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

After two years in the making, the reformed policy will bring fish stocks back to sustainable levels and stop wasteful fishing practices, as previous vessels were catching more fish than could be reproduced.

Andrew Kuyk, director of sustainability, FDF told FoodProductionDaily, the negotiations were seen as a last chance opportunity to put the ‘failed’ policy onto a better footing.

'Fallen into disrepute'

Our concern was the policy had fallen into disrepute and was putting consumers off buying fish, for example, cod was seen as being over fished,” he said.

We represent fish processors rather than the people who catch the fish. It is very important that the reputation is restored and consumers can buy produce with confidence.”

Guidelines in the policy include; fishing at levels that do not endanger the reproduction of stocks and maximises catches for fishermen, known as the 'maximum sustainable yield' (MSY).

A lot of work to do

Banning discards, which is the practice of throwing unwanted fish overboard (which is estimated at 23% of total catches). This practice will be phased out over the coming years and fishermen will be obliged to land all the commercial species they catch.

And, decentralised governance so that there will no longer be micro-management from Brussels and EU legislators will define the overall targets, performance indicators and timeframes. Member States will then cooperate at regional level and develop the implementing measures.

There is clearly a lot of work to do,” said Kuyk.

The proof of the pudding will be how well and quickly these changes are implemented, there is clearly a lot of detail to work through, for example, should all fish be landed and how are you going to police that if there isn’t a market for them?

In principle, the reformed guidelines put the policy in a more coherent scientific based framework, with a means to addressing the problem of discarding and setting catch quotas in line with best advice about what will allow stocks to recover and rebuild. 

In the past, ministers were swayed by political reasons, now it’s based on maximum sustainable yield. Even Maria Damanaki, the EU's maritime commissioner, admitted the CFP was a ‘failed policy’.”

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