By the Select Committee appointed to consider European
Union documents and other matters relating to the European Union.
REFORM OF THE COMMON FISHERIES POLICY:
THE CURRENT CRISIS OVER FISH STOCKS
1. On 28 May 2002 the European Commission published
a series of documents containing its proposals for the reform
of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
after preliminary scrutiny of the documents, invited the Fisheries
Minister, Elliot Morley MP, of the Department of Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), to give oral evidence on the proposals
and the likely progress of negotiations in the Fisheries Council.
The Minister's evidence of 10 July 2002 and the Committee's letter
to him of 18 July (Appendix 1) form part of this Report.
2. Among the points made to the Minister in July
capacity must be reduced and aid for the fishing industry redirected;
arrangements restricting access by foreign fleets to coastal waters
must be retained;
increased resources are needed for the EU Structural Funds in
order to facilitate change in fishing communities;
of environmental protection into the CFP remains an imperative;
fisheries management is a global issue, with profound implications
for world trade and international development policy.
The letter to the Minister cleared the Commission's
proposals from scrutiny, on the understanding that the Committee
would be kept informed of developments.
3. As negotiations have proceeded on the proposed
reforms, in preparation for the meeting of Agriculture and Fisheries
Ministers on 16-19 December, recent scientific reports have highlighted
the grave state of fish stocks, particularly of cod, in the seas
around north-western Europe as a result of over-fishing.
4. This is not a new problem. Previous reports by
Committees of both House have repeatedly drawn attention to a
growing crisis, most recently the 2001 Report of this Committee,
The situation has worsened dramatically since we reported. Urgent
measures to arrest further declineeven extinctionof
commercially important stocks are desperately needed. These must
be put in place now: the Community cannot afford to wait for agreement
on longer-term reform, essential though that is.
5. In brief, we have noted the following developments
since July 2002:
August: Delegates to the Johannesburg
Earth Summit reach agreement on a commitment to limit fishing
to sustainable levels and to restore depleted stocks by 2015.
October: The Agriculture and Fisheries
Council fails to reach a view on the Commission's proposals of
December 2001 for a North Sea cod and hake recovery plan.
October: The International Council for
the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) publishes its advice on fisheries.
In particular, for cod and the species which are most closely
associated with cod (such as haddock and whiting), ICES recommends
a moratorium on fishing in the North Sea, Skagerrak, West of Scotland
and Irish Sea.
November: WWF backs ICES' call for a moratorium.
November: The Commission's Scientific,
Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) presented
its findings. In a speech in Dublin, Commissioner Fischler says:
"We find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. The advice
from our own scientific and economic committee (STECF) is clear:
the surest way forward is a closure of the cod and associated
fisheries. However I am exploring other options where fishing
for cod, haddock, whiting and other stocks could continue on a
very limited level, provided that Ministers agree on an improved
recovery plan for cod in December."
November: The European Court of Justice
holds, in two cases brought by the Commission, that the UK was
in breach of its obligations under the CFP to stop illegal over-fishing
in the North Sea during the period 1985-1996.
November: Meeting in Brussels between
Commission officials and representatives of the fishing industry
to discuss management measures for cod and associated stocks in
EU waters. Commissioner Fischler promises to look at alternatives
to the complete moratorium recommended by ICES and STECF.
- The mounting crisis in the fishing industry has
been well covered by the press in recent weeks. With critical
discussions in the Council now imminent, the Committee wishes
the House to be aware of the urgency of the situation. It therefore
makes this short Report for information.
1 COM(2002)180, 181, 185, 186, 187 and 190, 28 May
The membership of SubCommittee D is set out in Appendix
House of Lords European Union Committee, 3rd Report, Session 2000-01,
HL Paper 12. Back
For information on the Commission's website see: http://europa.eu.int/comm/fisheries/policy_en.htm. Back
See for example The Financial Times, 28 August 2002. Back
COM/2001/0724 final; see Europe Agri, no 120, 25 October
2002 and DEFRA News Release 415/02, 16 October 2002 at http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2002/indx2002.asp. Back
For further information, see ICES website: http://www.ices.dk/. Back
The Scotsman, 8 November 2002. Back
Commission press release of 11 November 2002 at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/fisheries/news_corner/press/inf02_40_en.htm. Back
C-454/99, 2002.11.14; C-140/00, 2002.11.14; The Financial Times,
16 November 2002. Back
The Financial Times, 12 November 2002. Back