At present, the CFP allocates access to fish stocks based on the principle of ‘relative stability’, meaning that access to stocks is allocated based on individual countries’ historical catches. This model needs to be replaced with one that gives preferential access to fishing resources to those operators who better contribute to the environmental and social objectives of the CFP.
Sustainability criteria should also be applied when tackling the deep-rooted problem of fleet overcapacity: the most destructive vessels should be removed from the fleet first. Because overcapacity is one of the main drivers of overfishing, it is key that compulsory fleet reduction targets with associated timelines be put in place.
There are of course multiple issues that have to be addressed in the context of the CFP reform. However, it is only through putting the environment at the heart of fisheries policy that our fish stocks can be revived, that the economic plight of coastal communities can be reversed and that the abundant biodiversity of our seas can be secured.