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Common fisheries policy

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The issue

Fishing has substantial and severe impacts on Europe's coastal and marine ecosystems, imposing pressures that exceed safe biological limits (SBL) in most of Europe's seas. Fishing has focused on large fish and large fish species, reducing reproductive capacity and threatening the future productivity of stocks. Furthermore, the harvest capacity of European fishing fleets still exceeds available fish resources, despite years of political efforts. As a result, 30 % of Europe's fish stocks (for which information exists) are now fished outside SBL and fish catches have generally declined since 1985. Other pressures include the destruction of sea-floor habitats, targeting new fish species, by-catch (of species not targeted by fishing) and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF).

Review process

The European Commission has announced that it is preparing a fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to create the conditions for a genuinely viable and sustainable EU fishing industry and the further development of an Integrated Maritime Policy. The reform of the CFP should be completed by the end of 2012 and is expected to be a top political priority for the EU. A reform package was launched in October 2010. This work will comprise different proposals: on the basic framework for the functioning of the CFP; to reform the market policy; and on a fund to support the new Integrated Maritime Policy, the CFP and aquaculture.


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