Reforming the Common Fisheries Policy

Reforming the Common Fisheries Policy

Jill Wakefield

This book takes a critical view of the policy and law governing EU marine fisheries and the effect of the 2013 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Reforms to the CFP are impeded by Treaty-guaranteed concessions, exemptions from general environmental legislation and the Court of Justice’s creation of principles unique to the sector. The author discusses how damaging effects of fishing could be ameliorated if the Court were to align fisheries principles with general principles of law, and considers the institutional and regulatory frameworks needed to encourage prudent resource use.

Chapter 3: The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

Jill Wakefield

Subjects: environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, maritime law, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy


This chapter deals with the evolution of the EU’s CFP. The substantive reforms introduced by the 2013 Fisheries Regulation are outlined and discussed in the context of the new policy obligation to ensure that fishing is environmentally sustainable in the long term. Although overexploitation of the fish resource is driven by overcapacity, there are few incentives for capacity reduction. Attempts to ensure the sustainability of the resource are continued through revised control measures, including the introduction of a discard ban and a requirement to fish at maximum sustainable yield (MSY). However, the legislation does not address the problems emerging as a result of climate change. Even given the resultant mounting stressors on marine ecosystems, the latest Fisheries Regulation applies no pressure on the industry for husbandry of the resource. To support reforms, a new funding instrument, the Maritime and Fisheries Fund, has been established with aids to the fishing industry maintained, even though under EU law there is a prohibition on aid for other commercial sectors. Hitherto, the provision of aid has not managed to reduce the catching power of the fleet to match the available resource. A system to deliver robust, evidence-based policy has not emerged and scientific evidence is given no priority in decision-making. Instead, as under international law, the right to fish is protected, and this is treated by the Court of Justice as fundamental.

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