The European Commission is expected to release two important reports in early 2023: the Action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems and the Report on the functioning of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The first one, addressing the environmental dimension of the CFP, will probably anticipate the more general report – due in late February – which is not necessarily a good thing. The ETF has always stressed the three dimensions of the CFP – environmental, social, and economic sustainability – should be treated on an equal footing, and no priority should be given to any of them. The plan will address, in particular, delicate situations with stocks at risk, with measures such as area closures and gear changes. The social and economic implications of these measures will have to be considered, as none of these changes is neutral for the sector.
The report on the functioning of the Common Fisheries Policy is not, in the explicit intention of the Commission, a review of the policy. Nevertheless, it is highly awaited by European and national stakeholders. The report is announced to be an evaluation of what works and what does not in the CFP and is expected to include proposals to improve the effectiveness of the policies. The ETF has been asking in all fora to strengthen the social dimension of the CFP, which has always been disregarded to the benefit of the protection of fish stocks. The European Commission underlined multiple times that this report would be the occasion to look at the social dimension of the CFP and see what can be improved.
The ETF Fisheries Section has repeatedly stressed the main problems of the sector: loss of jobs, demographic issues, working conditions, etc. – and, while looking forward to examining the Commission proposals, has no high expectations from this report.
Still, the ETF will follow up closely with the publication of these reports and the upcoming discussions on possible measures related to our sector.