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Keywords:

  • Common Fisheries Policy;
  • days-at-sea;
  • European Community;
  • fishing capacity;
  • fishing effort;
  • fishing subsidies

Abstract

I summarize the total allowable catch (TAC) fishery management system, which forms part of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as complicated, inaccurate and ineffective. Total allowable effort (TAE), i.e. limits on fishing capacity and days-at-sea, provides a simpler, readily enforceable control to protect all species affected by a fishery. Fishing capacity of vessels in each region-gear fleet could be capped through limits on engine power, gear, crew, and fittings, and/or reducing allowances of days-at-sea for large, powerful vessels. Two basic, fishery-dependent indicators are put forward to assess sustainability of a fishery dependably even in the absence of fishery-independent data. One is socio-economic, the other is ecological. Fishery working groups within each marine region would recommend a TAE to sustain their fishery while also protecting the most critically affected species or processes. Regional working groups would supervise a consistent approach across the different fisheries in their region. A pan-European group would set policy, implement external agreements, set rules for trading TAE if necessary and harmonize fishing opportunities across regions. To ease negotiations on TAEs with the fishing industry when an ecosystem needs to recover, I propose compensation payments funded by re-direction of existing CFP subsidies that promote fishing.