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EU fisheries reform holds more research duties for member states

The European Commission has proposed a reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which includes changes to scientific advisory bodies, and more research duties for member states.

The Commission’s proposal, released today (13 July), aims to respond to the serious threat of overfishing for Europe’s fishing industry and marine ecosystem.

The plan states that fisheries management must be based on “sound scientific advice” and aims to remove overlaps in the work of different scientific advisory bodies.

In particular, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries—a group of 34 scientists that advise the Commission on marine biology, fisheries science, technology and economics—should “focus on essentials”, the Commission says.

Generally, the proposal foresees an end to “micro-management from Brussels”: EU law would define the basic principles and targets, while member states would have more responsibility to implement the measures.

Under the plan, national governments would be required to gather fish stocks data and come up with multiannual programmes for data collection and fisheries research, in coordination with other countries in their region.

The Commission also encourages partnerships between science and industry “to improve the quality and availability of data and knowledge”.

While the Commission says that the sustainability of fishing is at the heart of the reform, the Green Party in the European Parliament slammed the plans for not properly addressing environmental concerns, and for favouring a market-oriented system that would grant tradable fishing rights.

The European Parliament and Council of Ministers will now vote on the Commission’s proposals. The Commission says it expects the law to come into force in 2013.