Yesterday, MEPs approved by 502 to 137 votes a set of measures to reform the CFP in what has been widely described as a 'landmark' vote. And rightly so, given that the CFP is re-opened for negotiation only every ten years. The measures adopted by MEPs include a number of positive things:
- A timetable for the enforcement of an EU-wide ban on discards of fish. Under the new rules, all fish caught will have to be landed. If enforce propoerly, this should encourage better and more selective fishing techniques.
- From 2015, and by 2020 at the latest, EU fishermen will not be allowed to catch more than a given fish stock can reproduce in a given year. For lovers of Brussels acronyms, this is called the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).
- Annual allocations of fishing quotas will have to be consistent with longer-term management plans for individual fisheries. This is expected to avoid, or at least reduce, the yearly squabbling between national fisheries ministers in Brussels.
- Most importantly, management of fisheries will be largely carried out at the regional level - i.e. member states surrounding a certain sea basin will sort out day-to-day issues among themselves, based on broad principles decided in Brussels.
But if one looks at the bigger picture, the reforms adopted yesterday, albeit decades late, are clearly a step in the right direction. And prove that shifting from Brussels-centric micro-management to a healthier and more logic regional-based approach is fully possible when there is the political will to do so.