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 7: Ecosystem management: Integrating environmental protection into marine management

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 is concerned with the EU’s attempts to integrate environmental protection into marine management. As the environment is an area of competence shared between the Union and Member States, progress to improve protection relies on the Member States agreeing management plans. The EU has devised an Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) to overcome the fragmented decision-making that has arisen as a result of the regulation of marine areas according to individual sectors, with its environmental pillar to be established through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). This Directive demands the achievement of good environmental status for seas by 2020 but progress has been slow. One reason for the failure to move towards good environmental status more rapidly is the fact that the MSFD does nothing to integrate the CFP within its scope and fails to subject the CFP to broad environmental objectives that would prevent the overexploitation of the fish resource. The EU’s latest Environmental Action Plan (EAP) does not extend to marine fisheries, creating an obstacle to the achievement of desired outcomes. Under the terms of the MSFD, each Member State must assess the marine environment within their own waters and determine good environmental status according to specific qualitative descriptors. The optimum solution for achieving good environmental status would be the harmonisation of approaches between Member States to replace the disjointed efforts so far adopted, and a strengthening of the Regional Sea Conventions, such as the OSPAR Convention, to which the EU is party. To demonstrate that a harmonised approach would advance good environmental status, the Marine Directors, senior officials appointed by the Member States, have suggested the Member States use the experience of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) to inform implementation and monitoring, and have recommended the adoption of market-based instruments (MBIs) to secure the outcomes sought.

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