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«Europe and the Tragedy of the Commons: A detailed analysis of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) euryopa Institut européen de ...»

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Reversely, Britain brings forth the rather vague notion of “ownership”. The island argues that its territorial waters offer 60% of the community residual caught fish, which is in fact a fallacy, as the fish originates in most cases in different waters. Hence, Britain’s claim to 45% of TAC was ignored42. A second problem posed was that of Denmark, another traditional fishing nation. It specialised in industrial fishing and not only had the ordinary fishermen depended on this industry but also the land based factory workers. Thus, the allocation of fishing quotas or TAC signified a great importance to the Danish economy and its employment sector.

An agreement to a Common Fisheries Policy had already been met by October 1982 by nearly all Member States; apart from Denmark which was still not satisfied with its TAC allocation. The Danes tried to put pressure on the Community by vetoing the policy if their TAC allocation would not be increased. By January 1983, 5000 tonnes were added to the Danish TAC and the Common Fisheries Policy came finally into being43.

42 Edward NEVIN, "The Common Fisheries Policy (Chapter 16)", op. cit., p. 181.

43 Ibid.

Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" 21

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It was agreed that the CFP could be reviewed after 10 years but should originally stand for 20 years. By 2003, the CFP could be renegotiated and be reformed if necessary. With the 1983 policy, Member States had to respect the allocated TAC in community waters and needed special licences indicating a certain number of vessels of other MS for the area around the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Furthermore, the CFP provided financial aid-programmes for vessel modernisation. These EU subsidies, on the other hand ended in overinvestment. The new vessels equipped with modern technology ironically worsened the fish stock situation instead of helping to preserve it. With new solar and sensor technology fishermen could locate fish more rapidly which encouraged fishermen to fish even more and this increased overexploitation.

22 Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" The TACs and multi-annual guidance programmes which were originally designed to manage the community fleet turned into a failure44.

The CFP is certainly an ambitious idea trying to solve the fish stock problem and attempting to keep overexploitation of the waters to a very minimum. In order to preserve young fish and save them from being caught minimum mesh sizes were being fixed to allow young fish to escape. Fishermen were imposed to register and record each catch in a logbook, which was subject to checks by either a Member State or an EU inspector45. An undeniably difficult task of this policy however, was the control over fishermen. Neither the EU nor the Member States have the required sources to finance these inspectors on a regular basis. In most countries these inspectors are still today based in the capitals which are in most cases not situated on the coastline. This made inspection even more difficult and reassured fishermen to expect rather few inspections.

More often than not this part of the policy is being slightly left aside. The consequences were discussed in the section of the Tragedy of the Commons.

One more point one should not neglect is, that the EU has enlarged over the years including the accession of two big fishing nations in 1986. Spain and Portugal are traditional fishing nations which have doubled the EUs fishing fleet with their accession.

Spain in particular, consists of large fleets and was very eager to take advantage of free access to community waters46. The Spanish fleet counted 18.000 vessels in the 1990s47. The Spanish fleet was often considered a severe hassle and enemy to community fleets;

particularly to the British fleet, because the British argued that the Spaniards would not respect the CFP rules. In 1995, two more 44 MAGPs were introduced for Member States to control the development of their fleets.

45 The Community inspectorate counts 25 inspectors whose role is to ensure national enforcement of community regulations.

46 Desmond DINAN, Ever Closer Union, An introduction to European integration, second edition, London, Macmillan, 1999.

47 Dr. Alan SKED, http://www.bullen.demon.co.uk/cibcfp.htm Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" 23 fishing nations joined the EU, namely Sweden and Finland. Norway is still today refusing to join and one good reason for this might also be the regulations inflicted by the CFP.

Already by 1992, the ten year analysis of the CFP emphasised major turbulences and the EU had to admit that its subsidies ended up in overexploitation. The introduction of multi-annual guidance programmes, TAC and the CFP regulations had not been respected honestly. The review of 1992 stressed the need to make the CFP and regulations more effective48. Might one problem be the principle of subsidiarity?? Each Member State was ordered to monitor its quota uptake but a weakness had been observed in the surveillance area. New control regulations were needed to monitor and even penalise wrongdoers across the community.

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The CFP in crisis: sustainable fishing and resource management The fishing industries in the European Union are currently facing serious difficulties in the sustainable management of their fish resources. Resources are used as though they were inexhaustible.





Imbalances between fishing capacities and resource productivity with their well-known consequences of overinvestment and overcapacity resulting in overfishing have been the norm for years.

It is the adjustment of the exploitation regime to natural productivity of the resource that causes problems in fisheries rather than the efficiency of fishing operations or the management of fishing companies49. The latter are obviously from significance to this system yet only at a later stage. The primary objective has to be a sustainable management plan as well as accurate scientific research and reliable information on the nature and condition of marine resources. Control and monitoring systems for both fishery and exploitation regime are imperative.

It is a fallacy to assume that there is one universal recipe for the management of fisheries resources and the exploitation regime.

Fisheries are diverse, especially in the European Union which follows the motto of "unity in diversity". The variety of production systems, fishing techniques, the importance of the fishing industry in certain countries and the view of management and recovery plans differ and will always do so. The EU should develop general principles of policies and strategies according to this diversity which on the other hand may not find sounding resonance amongst 49 Jean-Paul TROADEC, "Fisheries efficiency, resource conservation effectiveness and institutional innovations" in Peter Bautista PAYOYO, (ed.), Ocean Governance, Sustainable Development of the Seas, Tokyo, UN University Press, 1994, p. 153.

26 Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" all those concerned. The general principles (unity) will include property rights regimes, a combination of quotas, TACs and a fixed amount of time to be spent at sea (direct conservation measures), as well as the reduction of fishing capacities just to name of few. If new institutional instruments are required to make the CFP reform functional they should be established, as for example the creation of the EU Fisheries and Control Agency. Furthermore, conservation measures used to be adopted on an annual basis which generally led to chaos and were never sufficiently effective at preserving stock.

Fishermen faced difficulties in adapting to new measures at very short notice. According to new CFP rules, recovery and management plans will set long-term standards, targets and other parameters in a legally binding format50. In the future, fisheries will be managed within long term strategies or plans in order to make conservation and recovery plans effective and practicable.

Through the introduction of a European CFP in the eighties it was attempted to control and minimise the volume of catches throughout the years in order to support the recovery of stocks by means of reducing the surplus fleet capacity through MAGPs or decreasing TACs. In the nineties it had become fairly obvious that CFP regulations were not adequately implemented and the decision-making process was far too centralised, bureaucratic and time-consuming for the generally taken short term decisions such as the annual negotiation over national TACs. Although the principle of subsidiarity is a key instrument within the EU, national fishery ministers have quite often acted in their national interest rather than following EU instructions or scientific recommendations. Quotas were generally set higher than scientifically advised and the actual catch was higher than the set quota because of poor control systems of Member States51. The CFP reform of 2003 was desperately needed as previous regulations and rules were not observed or in some cases breached.

It is important to achieve economically, 50 Magnor NERHEIM, The new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP):

Towards sustainable management and a profitable fisheries sector?, p. 33, Eipascope, EIPA Maastricht 2004, http://www.eipa.nl 51 Ibid.

Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" 27 environmentally and biologically sustainable fisheries because many livelihoods depend on this resource. If sustainable measures are not introduced instantly, the fishing industry will be facing serious financial problems in addition to the environmental and biological disaster facing the marine eco-system. The reform includes four main elements: a clear strategy for sustainable management of resources, a new fleet policy, new procedures in the enforcement and control systems and the involvement of stakeholders in fisheries management.

The European Unions problem with overfishing the current

resources has several roots:

1. The EU has a surplus fleet capacity, which fish stock in European waters can no longer withstand.

2. Additional to the overcapacity of the EU fishing fleet appear the technological advantages in locating fish shoals and the technical ability of increasing catches.

3. Although TACs are geared to the scientific recommendations made by ICES and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries in the EU, fisheries ministers have often set annual catch quotas on average 30% higher than scientifically advised in order to avoid possible political and social disputes at that moment.

4. The EU suffers from fundamental problems in the enforcement and monitoring sector.

The overall objective of the new policy is to ensure a fisheries management that provides sustainable environmental, economic and social conditions. Recovery management plans are set out in a long term approach which have to be legally binding for all MS.

Responsible and sustainable fishing activities are of significant importance to many parties concerned in this industry: they contribute to a healthy marine eco-system with long term economic benefits for both the environment and the fishing industry. The increasing demand for fish is positive for fishermen as it gives a certain job guarantee, however it puts a strain on resources and once these are endangered fishermen will also have to fear dismissal. Supply has already started to lag behind the steady 28 Europe and the "Tragedy of the Commons" expanding demand for fishery products. For production and reproduction to be efficient, inputs have to be used in proportion to the resources relative scarcity52. Reductions in the number of vessels and thus cuts in the employment sector are necessary because a safe balance between resources and capacity are imperative in creating a sustainable fishing environment. The current number of vessels is far too high for the resources that are left in EU waters.

An additional central plan in recovery measures undertaken by the CFP contains direct controls on fishing effort at sea, i.e. limiting the days for vessels spend at sea in order to avoid overfishing the set TACs53. Sheperd also states that the management of fishing activities with TACs and quotas trigger severe problems such as misreporting of catches or the quantities of certain species. In his opinion direct controls in fishing efforts have substantial advantages and it would be much easier and most of all cheaper to control and enforce restrictions on fishing efforts, especially with the newly introduced GPS monitoring system, operable since January 2005. This direct control procedure fixes the time vessels are allowed to spend at sea, expressed in strict units of days.

Although Sheperd argues against TACs and quotas, a complete elimination should be prevented. A combination of TACs and set quotas for all species plus a time limit for fishing activities at sea would be the ideal concept of a sustainable fishing industry. The closure of certain areas during recovery periods will be verified via the GPS radar system. Furthermore, TACs fixed by the Commission and MS should be legally binding and national as well as EU inspectors would have to control the observance. In case of failing to do so, strict penalties should be assigned such as fines or even a ban on fishing for a period of time.

The annual negotiation and setting of TACs requires an end.

This is nothing more than political debates and quarrels between the 52 Jean-Paul TROADEC, "Fisheries efficiency, resource conservation effectiveness and institutional innovations", op. cit., p. 155.

53 Ibid. and J.G. SHEPERD, Sustainable Fisheries: Myth or Mirage?, op.

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