The Spanish government has made €30 million available to support the fishing sector. Photo: Cepesca Parliament response fisheries package

In its January plenary session, European Parliament will discuss and vote on three reports evaluating the CFP, assessing its the Commission’s fisheries package. Photo: CEPESCA

Parliament’s Response to the Fisheries Package: Shaping the Future of EU Fisheries

January Plenary Session to Address Crucial Aspects of Common Fisheries Policy

During its upcoming January plenary session, the European Parliament is set to engage in a comprehensive debate and vote on three own-initiative reports concerning the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). These reports, which mark a significant milestone a decade after the last fisheries policy reform, respond to the European Commission’s evaluation of the policy and play a pivotal role in steering the discourse on the future of the CFP.

 
Background: A Decade of Fisheries Policy Reform

The CFP underwent ambitious reform in 2013, aiming for sustainable exploitation of fish stocks based on the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Key policy instruments were introduced, including the landing obligation to curb discarding practices and regionalisation for decision-making. The reform also extended to the Common Market Organisation (CMO) Regulation, emphasizing industry responsibility and product labeling.

 

Fisheries Policy Package Unveiled: A Legal Obligation

On February 21, 2023, the Commission unveiled a new fisheries policy package, featuring implementation reports on both the CFP and CMO Regulations. Alongside, communications on the energy transition in EU fisheries, and reconciling marine protection and fisheries were presented. The CFP implementation report, while highlighting positive outcomes, suggests areas for improvement, advocating a broader ecosystem approach, attracting youth, and fostering innovation. Notably, the report proposes a shift from single-species Total Allowable Catches (TACs) to a holistic, ecosystem-based model. The CMO implementation report underscores the market-oriented role of Producer Organizations (POs) but signals room for improvement, especially in small-scale fisheries. The energy transition plan and marine action plan aim at reducing carbon intensity and enhancing sustainability, respectively.

 

Parliament’s Stand: Advocating Reform and Adaptation

In anticipation of the Commission’s CFP evaluation, the Committee on Fisheries (PECH) initiated a report on the ‘State of play in the implementation of the CFP and future perspectives.’ The report calls for pragmatic application of the landing obligation, longer TAC periods, and transparency in quota distribution. It addresses energy transition challenges, emphasizing the need to redefine fishing capacity. A subsequent report on the CMO Regulation calls for recognizing fishers’ guilds as POs and stresses the importance of accurate food product labeling. The marine action plan report expresses dissatisfaction with the proposed blanket ban on bottom trawling in all marine protected areas.

 

Critical Debates and Future Outlook

Parliament will deliberate and vote on these reports during the January 2024 plenary session. The debates are expected to shape the direction of EU fisheries policy, emphasizing sustainability, innovation, and adaptation to evolving challenges. The outcomes will contribute significantly to defining the future trajectory of the Common Fisheries Policy.

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