Assembly committee identifies six areas in the Common Fisheries Policy reform to protect Welsh interests

Published 07/03/2012   |   Last Updated 14/07/2014

Assembly committee identifies six areas in the Common Fisheries Policy reform to protect Welsh interests

7 March 2012

A National Assembly for Wales committee has identified six priority areas to protect Welsh interests in the reform of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The Environment and Sustainability Committee has sent its conclusions to the Welsh Government, European Parliament and a range of European Commission officials, broadly welcoming the reform proposals but urging the protection of Welsh in-shore fishing communities from large-scale operators.

A Task and Finish group examined the proposals for reform of the CFP. It was chaired by Julie James AM, who stated:

“We believe that the proposals from the European Commission are timely and should be broadly welcomed and we also welcome the Welsh Government’s focus on ensuring that the proposals take sufficient account of interests and needs of the small scale coastal fishing fleet in Wales.

“However, during the course of the inquiry, stakeholders from all sectors called for the European Commission to provide clarity on a number of elements of the legislative proposals and we have written to the Welsh Government and the European Commission to seek further information and to set out our priorities for changes to the draft regulations.”

During the course of the inquiry, serious concerns were also raised about the detrimental impact of Historic Fishing Rights in the 6 to 12 nautical mile area of the Welsh sea. These included concerns that:

  • While Welsh fishers have very little access to quotas for commercial stocks, fishing stock number in Welsh waters have continued to deteriorate; and

  • Trawlers from fleets with historic rights provide no direct economic benefits to Welsh coastal communities and any catch that they land is registered in their own Member State so is not added to the historic record of catches in Wales.

Although not a matter directly addressed by the European Commission’s proposals, the Committee believes the Welsh Government should continue to search for a solution to the above concerns in its discussions with the UK Government and other Member States. Without serious action in this field, the Committee believes that the future of small scale traditional coastal fishing communities will be at risk.

The six priority areas identified during the inquiry are:

  • Ensuring consistency, integration and compliance between the CFP and existing EU environmental Directives;

  • Ensuring that Multiannual plans are developed as a matter of priority and make reference to coastal stocks and ecosystems;

  • Ensuring genuine decentralisation and regionalisation of fisheries management and an adequate voice for small scale fishers and producers in the advisory councils;

  • Ensuring that the mandatory proposals for transferable fishing concessions do not allow for fishing opportunities to end up in the hands of the most powerful economic actors to the detriment of coastal communities;

  • Ensuring that the proposals on discards do not prevent the current sustainable activity of returning live discarded catch to the sea; and

  • Ensuring that robust measures are in place to ensure that data collection is undertaken in a systematic and consistent way across Members States.