The Commission Green Paper on CFP Reform suggests that fisheries management be adapted to the requirements of the small-scale sector through “differentiated management regimes”; one for large-scale fleets, and one for “small-scale fleets in coastal communities with a focus on social objectives”.
The Green Paper further argues that to achieve the goal of ecological sustainability a “rights and results based approach to fisheries management should be adopted”; an approach that will push fishing companies “to use their investments more efficiently and to eliminate their surplus capacity.” It is further proposed that access to fish stocks should be linked to performance. “Rights, responsibility and accountability should of course go hand in hand: those who exercise responsibility in a proper and effective manner should be the ones to enjoy the access to fish stocks”, states the Green Paper.
Adopting such a rights based approach to fisheries management with the use of market based allocation mechanisms, as proposed by the Commission, has far reaching implications for small-scale fisheries, and may lead to concentration of ownership of access rights, put small-scale fisheries at a disadvantage, and lead to various perverse economic and social effects.
In adopting such a differentiated approach, local and regional specificities need to be taken fully into account. In this regard, management and decision taking needs to be devolved to appropriate regional and local levels, greater flexibility needs to be built into management and resource access arrangements, according to local and regional specificities. There is also a need to ensure that institutional structures and arrangements in place adequately represent the small-scale sector. These are considerable challenges.
In meeting these challenges, the use of subsidies has an important role to play. At one level capital is required to enable fishers to shift from unsustainable to sustainable fishing practices. At another level, there is a need to invest in training, capacity building, and institutional structures that support the development of commercial chains and co-management arrangements, and which integrate the management and development of fisheries into wider coastal zone and maritime setting.
It is therefore crucial that consideration is given to the interaction with, and impact on small-scale fisheries by other coastal area usage, such as marine parks, recreational fisheries, tourism, offshore installations for wind farms and oil extraction, aggregate extraction, effluent discharge, and so on. These activities have a considerable impact on small-scale fisheries and the sustainability of coastal communities, and this needs to be taken account of in the decision-making processes.