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Bold consensus needed for Europe’s fisheries by William Bain MP (Labour, Glasgow North East), the Shadow Food, Farming and Fisheries Minister

Now, 700,000 people (through Channel 4’s Fish Fight Campaign) have spoken truth to powerand power, in the form of the European Commission, retailers and national governments, has been forced to listen, and radically change fisheries policy.

Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, and Sainsbury’s have worked with consumers to change their buying behaviour promoting traditional British fish like dabs and coley instead of over-fished cod and haddock, and buyers have responded.

This week’s unanimous adoption by the European Commission of Commissioner Damanaki’s proposals for reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 2013 is a milestone in ending the scandal of what the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated as 1.7 mn tonnes of edible fish caught in EU fisheries thrown back into the seadead.

A reformed European fisheries policy is the best means to combine stewardship of our marine environment, consumer wishes, and a financially viable future for the fishing industry in Scotland and the EU.

The plans introduce an ecosystem approach to fisheries managementparticularly important in Scotland’s mixed fisheriesregulating the amount of fish lifted from each sea basin rather than quotas for each individual species. Roll-out of catch quotas and regional management of fisheries is key to delivering this aim. It allows the fishing industry to take more responsibility and control for the management of quotas, and ends the absurdity of Brussels dictating net sizes.

Government can help by incentivising fishers who use more selective nets and on-board monitoring equipment, which can further reduce levels of discarded and bycatch of fish, as witnessed in Denmark and Scotland. The plans also envisage new job creation in the processing of otherwise discarded fish, and an expansion of the aquaculture sector.

The centrepiece of the reforms is a new system of individually tradeable catch levels for each fisher in individual member states. Small-scale fishing boats will be exempt, and quotas would be tradable only within national boundaries to prevent multinational buy-outs of fishing enterprisesan important protection for coastal or fish-dependent communities.


Platform for Mediterranean Artisanal Fishermen

In Europe, deliberately or not, small-scale artisanal fishers are being squeezed out, and are now in danger of extinction. European Commission (EC) projections show employment in the fish-catching sector set to decline by 60 per cent over the next ten yearsdeclines that are likely to have greater impacts on the small-scale sector, which employs most of the fisheries workforce.

Successive EC Common Fisheries Policies (CFPs) have discriminated against small-scale fisheries and prejudiced their chances to prosper and sustain coastal communities. During the 1980s, production-oriented subsidies that went mainly to modernize the larger-scale industrial fleet put them at a disadvantage, literally taking the fish out of their nets. Then, capacity-reduction schemes fell heavily on smaller, ‘less efficient’ vessels. Although, overall, vessel numbers were reduced, capacity still went up. Now the EC is poised to do a further injustice to small-scale fisheries by introducing individual transferable quotas (ITQs) throughout the European Union (EU), to be gifted to fishing companies for 15 years.

In the Mediterranean, small-scale fishermen have recently established a platform to make their voices heard. Set up in February 2011 by artisanal fishermen’s representatives from Spain, France, Greece and Italy, who gathered at the El Calisay Cultural Centre (Arenys de Mar) in Catalonia, Spain, during 18-19 February, the platform’s aim is to start a process of consolidating their shared determination to establish the policy reforms needed to ensure the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks so that future generations can have a decent living.

The platform is meant to represent the common interests of small-scale fishersunderstood to be those who fish using low-impact gearin formal local, regional, national and EU-level forums. It is open to all traditional fishers from the Mediterranean coast who share common objectives, and who are willing to co-operate and unite efforts to achieve these objectives.

The platform is founded on the shared values of responsibility and a commitment towards the natural marine environment, with the three main aims of:

•   optimization of resource management;

•   engagement in policy processes; and

•   promotion of the sociocultural dimension of small-scale fisheries.

The platform defends artisanal fishing as a potentially sustainable activity, which could contribute more substantially to the protection and recovery of fish stocks and the marine environment. It seeks to forge links with the scientific community to develop common programmes of action. The platform claims that the small-scale fishers’ traditional knowledge of the marine environment and fishery resources is an invaluable heritage, which must be recognized and preserved.


OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020

The following excerpts are from the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020, published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

From Chapter 8 on Fish:

Projection highlights

• World fisheries production is projected at 164 mn tonnes in 2020, a growth of about 15 per cent above the average level for 2008-2010. Major increases in the quantity of fish produced will originate from aquaculture. However, for the projection period, the annual growth rate of aquaculture is estimated at 2.8 per cent, a reduction compared to the rate of 5.6 per cent for the previous decade.

• Fish prices (capture, aquaculture and trade) will increase over the medium term. With the growing price of fishmeal and the high price of other feeds, the spread between the price of farmed and wild fish will grow over the medium term.

• Total fish and fishery products will continue to be highly traded, with about 38 per cent of world fish production exported in 2020. World per capita fish food consumption is projected to reach 17.9 kg per capita in 2020, from 17.1 kg per capita of the average 2008-2010.


World fish prices will continue the growing trend experienced in 2010 and early 2011.

They will be affected by income and population growth, stagnant capture-fisheries production, increasing feed cost, a weaker US dollar and higher crude oil prices. All these factors will contribute to the rise in fish prices over the medium term.

However, there will be different scenarios for capture-fisheries production and for aquaculture. With the growing price of fishmeal and the higher price of other feeds, the spread between the average price of output from aquaculture and capture will grow over the medium term.

In addition, the average price for wild fish should increase less than farmed ones due to expected changes in fish composition, with more catches of lower-value fish. The average world price for captured species is expected to increase by 23 per cent and for aquaculture species by a significant 50 per cent by 2020, compared to the average for 2008-10.

In addition to the need to compensate for the higher cost of fishmeal, prices of aquaculture will also grow due to strong domestic demand. In 2020, the price of fish products traded will be 30 per cent higher than during 2008-10. Due to stagnant capture fisheries, the increasing demand for fish will be met by aquaculture. Since it is not foreseen that oilseed meal will replace fishmeal in the diet of many of the species raised in aquaculture, demand for fishmeal will continue to grow. With a rather stable production, fishmeal prices, which have reached high levels since 2009, are, therefore, expected to further increase during the next decade, up 43 per cent in 2020 from 2008-10. During the same period, fish oil prices are projected to grow by 19 per cent. This will lead to a large increase in the price ratio of fishmeal compared to oilseed meal. During the same period, fish oil prices are projected to grow by 19 per cent. Although most of fish oil produced is used as an input in aquaculture production, the equivalent ratio in the oil market will increase only slightly.


World per capita apparent fish consumption is projected to reach 17.9 kg in 2020, from 17.1 kg during 2008-10. The cyclical decline in the price of other meats with no further feed price explosion, combined with higher prices of fish and fishery products, will eventually stabilize consumption. Per capita fish consumption will increase in all continents, with Oceania and Europe showing the highest growth rates. Fish consumption will continue to be higher in more developed economies, even if decreasing in Japan and Canada. Per capita consumption in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will increase, but will continue to be rather low (11.5 kg in 2020).

Fish consumption will continue to be affected by complex interactions of several factors, including rising living standards, growing emphasis on fish as a healthy and nutritious food, population growth, rapid urbanisation, increased trade and transformations in the food distribution and retail sectors. The total amount of fish consumed will continue to vary according to regions and countries, reflecting the different levels of availability of fish and other foods, including the accessibility of aquatic resources in adjacent waters, as well as diverse food traditions, tastes, income levels, prices and seasons. Annual per capita apparent fish consumption will vary from less than 1 kg in one country (e.g. Ethiopia) to more than 100 kg (e.g. Maldives) in another.


ICSF’s Documentation Centre ( has a range of information resources that are regularly updated. A selection:


Invisible Possibilities
Director: Ema Mashauri. Producer: Paul Onyango.
Duration: 26 mins

Using the example of one fishing community, this film documents the efforts to eradicate poverty, which is persistent especially in communities in Africa, south of the Sahara. The video can be viewed at


The Ecosystem Approach to Marine Planning and Management
Ed. by Sue Kidd, Andy Plater and Chris Frid
Earthscan. London. 2011. pbk. 231 p. ISBN 978-1-84971-183-8

This book brings together exerpetise from natural scientists, social scientists and marine planning and management practiotioners to promote a broader understanding of issues that need to be addressed in applying the ecosystem approach (EA) to the seas. The book is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students, practitioners and researchers from a range of disciplinary backgrounds who have an interest in EA to natural resource management and its application in the marine environment.

Economic Management of Marine Living Resources: A Practical Introduction, David Whitmarsh. Earthscan. London. 2011. pbk. 171 p. ISBN 978-1-84971-259-0

This textbook outlines the problems associated with the management and conservation of marine living resources, with particular attention to the twin concepts of economic value and sustainability. It looks at the key methods used to collect and analyze socioeconomic data, o riented towards the information needs of decisionmakers and stakeholders involved in fisheries management.

Beach Management: Principles and Practice Allan Williams and Anton Micallef Earthscan. London. 2011. pbk. 445 p.ISBN 978-1-84971-307-8

This comprehensive book provides full coverage of beach management principles and practice, with an emphasis on needs-based management. The emphasis throughout the book is on optimizing economic, social and environmental outcomes and reconciling competing needs in management planning for beach areas.


Fishermen’s rights

Filipino fishermen have suffered a great deal on Taiwanese boats. Living conditions on those boats were denounced at the international seminar held in Manila last February. All over the world, un-known fishermen undergo the same or worse treatment and have no way to defend their basic rights.

International agencies and governments do little or nothing to solve these problems. Industrial fleets have hurt small artisanal fishermen in numerous countries, either directly by fishing in their waters, or indirectly, by negotiating with governments to obtain larger fishing quotas. Many national organizations aspire to have a zone reserved for artisanal fishermen, and we can see the day when that right will be universally accepted as a norm.

Women do not participate in organizations and are generally kept in an inferior position. Even though they always participate in the task of processing the catch, they are not allowed to occupy leadership positions. Also, governmental decision-making agencies do not accept the participation of fishworkers’ leaders, who are therefore forced to use pressure tactics to be taken into account.

We can see some signs on the horizon that allow us to hope for a better day for fishworkers who lack basic rights. Chile has promulgated a law for fishing and aquaculture, which provides for the participation of representatives of fishermen’s organizations in fishing councils. It also establishes a five-mile zone reserved for artisanal fishing, a fisheries development fund, and priority access to aquacultural con-cessions. Fishermen from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Senegal, the Philippines, India, Norway, France and other countries are active in their organizations to achieve better living and working conditions.

This progress marks the beginning of a long and difficult road that fishermen’s organizations will have to travel to ensure that their members are respected as human beings and can defend their sources of work threatened by pollution and plunder. Fishermen and fishworkers of the entire world should raise their voices to make room for the participation of women and demand from their governments reserved fishing areas. Credit and technical assistance should be channelled through projects that are elaborated with the active participation of fishermen themselves at every step of the process.

from comment in SAMUDRA Report No. 4, May 1991



7th meeting of the Ad-Hoc open-ended working group on Article 8(j) and related provisions
31 October – 4 November 2011, Montreal, Canada

This meeting will review the progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Work for Article 8(j), and also look at mechanisms to promote the effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the work of the Convention.

15th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
7-11 November 2011, Montreal, Canada

This meeting will address decisions on marine and coastal biodiversity: identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas and addressing adverse impacts of human activities, including underwater noise, on marine and coastal biodiversity; and on new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.


National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India

This centre focuses on sustainable coastal management based on strong research and knowledge, and seeks to strengthen capacity in multidisciplinary research on coastal management. The site has information on the World Bank project on integrated coastal zone management, with a focus on assessment of shoreline change.

ICSF Climate Change Site

ICSF has launched a new website on the impacts of climate change on fisheries and fishing communities.