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Abstract

In the European Union, ‘principles of good governance’ have been instituted across several sectors in response to criticisms from environmentalists, business and the public, because of alleged inefficiency, inadequate policy implementation, democratic deficit and environmental crisis. In fisheries, the pursuit of good governance has gained extra significance because it has been posited as a means to eliminate many of the problems that characterise the sector, including the overexploitation of fish stocks, marine ecosystem degradation and fishing community vulnerability. This article explores good governance reforms put in place to deal with the North Sea fisheries crisis, with particular reference to the newly instated North Sea Regional Advisory Council. First, I describe the current state of North Sea fisheries and the problems associated with European fisheries management. I then show how these problems were dealt with in the European Union's pre-reformed Common Fisheries Policy. Finally, I explore the changes introduced in fisheries after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, and suggest that the good governance of fisheries may not represent the panacea that some policy-makers and theorists maintain it is.