Doc. 8165

9 September 1998

Sustainable exploitation of living marine resources

Report

Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Rapporteur: Mr Lino Carvalho, Portugal, Group of the Unified European Left

Summary

The sustainable exploitation of living marine resources, especially fish resources, is a long-standing concern of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

The aims set out in the report include exploitation of resources compatible with their renewal; better supervision of the fishing effort and of access to resources, assessment of fisheries management policies; measures to ensure the survival and development of fishing communities with a view to maintaining a strong and responsible form of economic activity in this sector; the pursuit of a fisheries policy based on scientific research and reflecting an interdisciplinary, intersectoral approach, marine environment protection and coastal management.

The resolution proposes setting up a European Maritime Agency and taking advantage of 1998 (International Year of the Ocean) and Expo’98 (World Exhibition in Lisbon) to promote a public awareness campaign on the oceans.

I.       Draft resolution

1.       The Assembly recalls:

i. its Resolutions 1091 (1996), 1012 (1993), 972 (1991), 929 (1989) and Order No. 522, all of which address problems related to the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources. It stresses the importance of those resources, whose exploitation provides food and employment for large sections of the population;

ii. the Parliamentary Conference on the Oceans which it organised in Paris on 19 March 1998 and the parliamentary meetings on the oceans, held in Lisbon on 31 August - 1 September 1998, which inter alia looked at the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources;

iii. the important work carried out by the European Union (in particular the European Parliament), by other international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its Fisheries Committee, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and its Committee on Fisheries, and by the Independent World Commission on the Oceans.

2.       In addition, the Assembly welcomes the fact that the United Nations has declared 1998 International Year of the Ocean and that the Lisbon World Exhibition (Expo '98) has also chosen the oceans as its theme. This is proof of world-wide awareness of the oceans’ importance and the attention being paid to them for the purposes of preserving a global balance and ensuring the survival of humankind.

3.       The primary aim of fish stocks management at a time when many species are currently being over-exploited must be sustainable exploitation of fish resources. This presupposes a better understanding and effective control of the fishing effort as it really is. However, any measure of compulsory reduction of the fishing effort should be coupled with social support measures for fishermen and, if necessary, compensation for ship-owners.

4.       Accordingly, the specific features of each fishing zone and the relations between species must be borne in mind, measures must be adapted to the wide range of biogeographical and fisheries production conditions and an effort must be made to promote a balanced form of exploitation, involving not only the most commercially profitable species but also other less valued ones.

5.       The Assembly acknowledges that coastal fishing is of strategic importance because of its role in the supply of fresh fish, its economical use of resources and its contribution to ensuring viable, settled fishing communities and also because of the jobs that depend on it.

6.       The Assembly acknowledges the major importance of off-shore fishing, given the size of the catches it accounts for, the industrial and economic development it makes viable and the jobs that are generated by it.

7.       It further points out that any regulations on access to exploitation of resources must comply with the principles already accepted by the international community, including:

i.       management based on fisheries research in order to strike an appropriate balance between the conservation of resources and the survival and development of fishing communities, with a view to achieving a strong and responsible form of economic activity in the sector;

ii. the introduction of differentiated rules on access to exploitation depending on whether the resources are in territorial waters, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone or international and third-country waters;

iii. the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO 1995) and in particular the precautionary approach. The foregoing must also be borne in mind in fish stock management.

8.       The Assembly also considers that given the excessive fishing effort, any fleet modernisation programme must take account of predictable stock levels, the specific situation of the fishing sector and fishing community in each country, in particular by taking into consideration the size of the fishing fleets in relation to the size of stocks. It is opposed to all management measures based solely on policies of dismantling vessels.

9.       The Assembly believes moreover that it is essential:

i. to preserve the concept of territorial waters (12 nautical miles) and the sovereignty of coastal states over their territorial waters, which must be exclusively reserved for the national fleets of the states concerned, without prejudice to existing agreements between states;

ii. to grant coastal states preferential fishing rights in the contiguous zone and allow some of these states, depending on their specific geographical features, the possibility of extending this zone to fifty miles;

iii. to preserve the concept of the exclusive economic (200 nautical miles) as a zone in which the coastal state has sovereign rights and exercises its jurisdiction for the purposes of supply, conservation and management of natural resources.

10.       The Assembly believes that scientific research, in particular the biological assessment of potential resources and the effects of exploiting them, as well as changes in natural environmental factors, must be the foundation for fisheries policy and for the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources as part of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach. It is also essential to develop scientific co-operation between states and European research institutes, in conjunction with fishing communities, ship-owners and the fishing industry.

11.       It draws attention to the close interaction between activities in coastal areas (agriculture, fishing, tourism, town planning, etc.) and the environment, whence the need for integrated management of the coast and coastal development based on the interdependence between coastal ecosystems and water-based activities and aimed at reducing sources of pollution and limiting the urbanisation of coastal areas.

12.       Consequently, the Assembly calls upon member states and, where appropriate, the European Union, the OECD, the FAO and other competent international organisations to encourage, implement or strengthen policies for the management of living marine resources based on sustainable exploitation, support for fishing communities and the preservation of an economically sound fishing sector, and to this end:

i. carry out an assessment of the application, advantages and disadvantages of the various systems for managing fish resources in the light of the individual characteristics of the fisheries and countries concerned;

ii. undertake a study of the actual fishing effort in respect of fisheries, fleets and waters under their jurisdiction and introduce an effective fisheries monitoring system;

iii. involve fishermen and ship-owners’ organisations and other relevant bodies as well as scientific quarters in drawing up and implementing fishing policies, in particular with regard to the measures to be taken to ensure sustainable and responsible management of resources;

iv. adopt practical measures, as appropriate, such as: fixing TACs (total allowable catches) and quotas, setting limits to the minimum admissible biomass, protecting juvenile stock, limiting catches per zone and restricting the number of days ships are allowed to spend at sea, reducing by-catches and discards, working towards a ban on drift-nets exceeding 2.5 km, monitoring the operations of large fishing vessels, extending satellite monitoring of fishing boats more than 15 metres in length to cover the whole of Europe, controlling the number of fishing licences and the authorised duration of fishing, developing co-operation with and between marine research institutes in order to increase European scientific and technological potential. Such co-operation should be based on strategic thinking and jointly undertaken projects, in particular in the framework of networks comprising public institutions and commercial undertakings;

v. protect the rights of fishermen and other fishing industry workers and provide them, through environmentally and economically sound management of fish stocks, with fair living standards and with preferential access to traditional fishing grounds and to resources in the waters under their jurisdiction;

vi. avoid incorporating or allowing in the fisheries management, incentives for wasteful fishing practices;

vii. sign and ratify the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the associated agreements, in particular the 1995 Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks;

viii. accede to the Agreement to promote compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas (FAO, 1993);

ix. extend the Council of the European Union Regulation (EC) N° 1239/98 of 8 June 1998 on a total ban on drift-net fishing in the Atlantic and Mediterranean from 1 January 2002 to the member states of the Council of Europe as well;

x. secure and destroy the drift-nets which are no longer required and to prohibit their transfer to third parties;

xi. introduce import bans on fish and fish products from countries which violate the international treaties and legal regulations prohibiting drift-net fishing;

xii. bring influence to bear on the fishing industry and companies to ensure that they do not process or sell fish or fish products obtained through drift-net fishing;

xiii. take appropriate measures to promote consumer awareness of the origins of fish and fish products, fishing methods and dangers to certain species; and to work actively to promote the labelling of fish and fish products obtained from sustainable sources in line with international regulations on the protection of species;

xiv. implement Resolution 52/29 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 26 November 1997 on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing: unauthorised fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, fisheries by-catch and discards;

xv. implement international conventions relating to the protection of the marine environment, undertake regular assessments of the state of health of coastal areas, develop and jointly use means of detecting sources of pollution and end the release of radioactive materials into the ocean;

xvi. engage in consultations with a view to creating a European Maritime Agency to help develop a coherent vision of European maritime policy, especially on the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources and to improve the co-ordination and use of European expertise and experience in marine ecosystems, particularly fisheries. An agency of this kind would function in co-operation with other existing institutions such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES);

xvii. draw on the ocean-related events of 1998 to launch a European public awareness campaign on the importance of the oceans and make a joint effort to define objectives, identify priorities, devise methodology and assemble the human and material resources needed to progress towards improved knowledge and sustainable exploitation of the oceans and their resources.

II.       Explanatory memorandum by Mr Carvalho

CONTENTS

1. Introduction       6

2. Importance of living marine resources       7

3. Biological reference points for the management and conservation of fish resources       11

4. Systems for managing living marine resources        13

5. Exclusive Economic Zone, territorial waters/12 miles and contiguous zone       14

6. Fisheries research       15

7. Marine environment protection and coastal management       16

8. Summary       18

9. Conclusions       20

1.       INTRODUCTION

Living marine resources are of cardinal importance for the survival of humankind. Fish stocks are renewable natural resources and therefore capable of regenerating themselves.

Conservation of fish stocks must be an objective of fisheries management. J.G. Shepherd summed this up very clearly in “The key issues in the conservation of fisheries” (1993), stating that their exploitation must be controlled by appropriate management, which means bearing in mind the following principles:

1.       Management and conservation of stocks are necessary because, as a rule, economic operators are incapable of striking a satisfactory balance;

2.       Conservation measures are needed permanently, not only when stocks are in poor condition, and they cannot be suspended when stocks are replenished;

3.       Technical conservation measures (for example minimum mesh size) are normally inadequate for the purpose. Direct conservation measures (limiting catches or the fishing effort) are necessary in most cases;

4.       A ban on fishing during spawning is not always a very effective conservation measure;

5.       Stability of annual catches and of the fishing effort cannot be achieved at the same time;

6.       TACs and the corresponding quotas do not presuppose that the fleet is able to fish all year round. Restrictions on fishing do not mean that scientific estimations are erroneous.

7.       TACs and quotas are indirect ways of controlling the fishing effort; setting direct limits on the fishing effort is also a way of achieving the same goal.

However, besides renewable living resources, a wide range of other strategic issues are at stake in the oceans, calling for a comprehensive approach to the problem.

As large-scale ecosystems, the oceans pose a series of major scientific and technological challenges, but as strategic communication areas linking all the regions of the world, they must also be places where co-operation develops (and must be initiated) to preserve resources.

In order to conserve the marine environment and, hence, its capacity for regeneration, it is vital to put an end to the discharging of toxic chemicals and other pollutants into the seas.

To maximise the economic productivity of marine resources, it is important to respect the relations existing between species and promote a balanced form of exploitation not only of the most valued and commercially profitable species (fish, crustaceans, molluscs and sea mammals) but also of less valued ones.

2.       IMPORTANCE OF LIVING MARINE RESOURCES

The importance of fisheries cannot be measured only by the yardstick of their contribution to GDP or other indicators normally used to assess the economic importance of the different activities. It must also be borne in mind that fish stocks and products are key factors for food and jobs.

As far as food is concerned, in some European countries 40% of protein intake comes from fish products, accounting for about 15% of the population’s expenditure on food.

In social terms, there are currently over 400 000 fishermen in Europe. Given that each job at sea generates at least four jobs on land, there may be said to be nearly two million workers operating in the various fisheries sectors. So it is no exaggeration to say that about six million people depend on fishing activities (if a family unit is taken to consist of three people).

Fishing is a traditional activity which has long played a key role in the economy of certain coastal regions of Europe and functions on two different scales: small-scale fishing and large-scale fishing.

Small-scale fishing is of considerable strategic importance because of its contribution to the supply of fresh fish, its economical use of resources (especially in energy terms), the employment it generates and its part in ensuring viable, settled fishing communities in coastal areas.

Large-scale fishing, especially trawling, which uses more substantial means of production, calls for heavy capital investment and entails high operating costs. However, it is also of great strategic importance because of the size of the catches and the number of jobs it generates, as well as because it makes processing industries viable.

If, in addition to fishing, we include the possibilities afforded by marine aquaculture (fish, molluscs and crustaceans), the worldwide exploitation of the oceans can be estimated to have yielded 92 million tonnes in 1994 (FAO statistics: 85 million tonnes for the fishing industry and seven million tonnes for aquaculture)1. In Europe alone (east and west), still according to the FAO, marine fishing in 1995 totalled 11.4 million tonnes and aquaculture produced one million tonnes. Norway is the leading European country for marine fishing and aquaculture, with a total yield of about three million tonnes, compared with a total catch for the European Union countries of approximately 7.5 million tonnes.

Fishing and aquaculture represent a major economic interest, but in recent years alarm has been expressed in a variety of circles (scientists, ecologists, fisheries management and workers) because marine resources are easily affected by climatic changes, industrial and urban pollution and overfishing which may jeopardise the reproductive potential of some stocks.

2.1.       Fisheries management policies

The FAO report presented at the 22nd meeting of the Committee on Fisheries in Rome in March 1997 analyses the changes in the main 200 marine species exploited worldwide, highlights the intensification of the fishing effort and reports a gradual increase in the percentage of stocks in need of protective measures, from almost 0% in 1950 to over 60% in 1994. The report recommends effective measures to control and reduce catch capacities and the fishing effort.

All management policies aimed at ensuring the conservation of fishing resources should be based on scientific research and, in particular, on biological assessments of potential resources and the effects of exploiting them.

Changes in natural environmental factors (currents, temperatures, salinity, wind direction, etc.) may also affect the quantity of fishing resources and their chances of survival. These environmental changes may lead to an increase in mortality, particularly during the larval and juvenile phases of species’ biological development, and may cause considerable yearly fluctuations in recruitment, that is the number of fish entering a given fishing ground for the first time.

Assessments of fishing consist of three elements:

a.       analysis of changes in the state of stocks and the level of exploitation, as well as of the relationship between fisheries and climatic conditions;

b.       long-term forecasting of catches and stocks (indicating the target reference points, which in practice will serve as long-term goals or objectives);

c.       short-term forecasting of catches and stocks (indicating fishing levels to be adhered to over one year, so that exploitation may be adapted to recent conditions and directed towards the predetermined long-term goals).

The practical measures introduced as a result of these analyses are aimed at controlling fishing levels each year by limiting the number of fishing licences, the number of fishing days and/or the total admissible catches (TACs). Technical measures (minimum mesh sizes, minimum size of catches, non-fishing periods, etc.) are also introduced.

Government bodies have borne the main responsibility for fisheries management (including research, statutory regulation and monitoring), deciding whether or not to allocate TAC quotas, issue boats with fishing licences and restrict access to living marine resources. In the last 15-20 years, however, the efficiency of this management system has been called into question, as its results have not satisfied anybody. Other management systems have been tried out with the aim of achieving a method of exploiting fishing resources that is more rational and appropriate and enjoys the full understanding and co-operation of those more directly concerned with the fishing industry.

Practically all the management systems that have been tried out are based on scientific analyses of fishing, and there is general acknowledgement of the advantage of TACs (where they exist) and of the value of apportioning them between individual boats or fishing sectors on a quota basis or by some other technical means.

The main differences between systems lie in the transferability or otherwise of individual TAC quotas and in the manner in which responsibility for management, including monitoring, is defined.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has alerted the countries of Europe and the North Atlantic to the risks attendant on overfishing. Some fishing zones are harder hit than others, such as the north-west Atlantic and the North Sea; and the same applies to certain species, such as cod (since the early 1970s catches have decreased by almost 50%). Europe has not been spared by this depletion of catches, many of the causes of which remain a mystery (overfishing is one, but there are others). There are still some disproportionately large fishing fleets, although it has to be remembered that the various countries’ fishing fleets differ in size according to the size of their stocks. At any rate, there is a need for more detailed study of the resources situation.

The solutions adopted in Europe to control the fishing effort vary from one zone to another.

Where the European Union countries are concerned, fishing is covered by the Common Fisheries Policy introduced in 1983, which provides first of all for a quota system in the form of TACs (total admissible catches) for certain species and allocates annual quotas to member states per geographical area and per species as agreed by the Council of Ministers of the European Union.

In 1996 the European Union introduced, in respect of each state, fishing ceilings for certain zones and certain stocks in the Atlantic. More recently it started to set up a satellite system for monitoring the movements of member states’ fishing fleets.

In April 1997 the European Union decided, although not unanimously, to adopt measures to reduce the fishing effort of its member states. These involve reductions either in fleet capacity or in time at sea, and perhaps a combination of the two.

Additional technical measures have been proposed to control access to the resource: use of more selective equipment in terms of species and catch size; total or periodic closure of fishing zones; restrictions on the number of days ships spend at sea; minimum size requirements for fish landed.

However, the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy cannot be said to be a success; on the contrary, it has not fully regulated the activity, has not avoided social crises and above all has benefited the more powerful fishing centres to the detriment of extensive coastal areas dependent on fishing.

Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands (and also New Zealand and Alaska) have implemented management systems based on individual quotas (transferable or otherwise), under which each ship is allocated a fishing quota for one or more species, as well as other systems in which management is assigned to coastal communities.

It is essential to take stock of the different management systems, bearing in mind the specific features of each country, each zone and each section of the fleet, which differ widely, and also the social and economic consequences of systems based on transferable individual quotas, such as fleet concentration, unemployment, the difficulties surrounding young people’s entry into the sector, the increase in discards and the cost of the individual monitoring process.

At all events, the problem of controlling access to the resource is the stumbling block of all fisheries policies.

To sum up, the present state of Europe’s fisheries calls for measures by the authorities responsible for managing them to permit future exploitation of stocks compatible with their renewal and with the survival and development of fishing and shipowning communities, in order to ensure strong and responsible economic activity in the sector.

In this respect, control of access to the resource is a major issue: measures such as ceiling levels per zone, the use of ships equipped with devices to monitor catches and the reduction of accessory catches should be implemented and enforced. Satellite monitoring of the position of fishing boats more than 15 metres in length and the time they spend in a zone should be extended throughout Europe.

All these management measures require fishing fleets to adapt their activities to the resources available each year: fishworkers’ and shipowners’ organisations should be involved in the decision-making process and supporting measures should be taken to cushion the social impact. With the help of its fishermen, Europe must promote “responsible fishing”. It must also adopt the same attitude towards third countries when fishing agreements that give European ships access to their EEZs are concluded with them. This attitude must also be adopted in international waters.

2.2.       Importance of marine resources

The entry into force in 1994 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea clarified the international legal status of the oceans, but its implementation gives rise to some conflict. The convention confirmed the sovereignty of states over their 12-mile strip of territorial waters and recognised their right to enforce their laws and regulations in the contiguous zone and in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles from their coasts. In 1995 a further agreement was concluded relating to the Conservation and Management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

There has also been a sharp increase in the exploitation of renewable marine resources. From 20 million tonnes in 1950, the world fishing catch had risen to about 90 million tonnes in 1995. The same period saw a certain expansion of marine aquaculture, despite considerable variations between countries.

Fishing is an important activity in Europe. Marine fishing activities make up roughly 3-5% of the GDP of European maritime countries. There was an estimated total of over 400,000 full- and part-time fishermen in 1995 (on about 150,000 boats), and approximately two million jobs in coastal areas were directly or indirectly related to fishing (boat-building and maintenance, fish trade, fish processing etc). The impact of these jobs related to fishing and agriculture is chiefly local, and they weigh heavily in the balance in spatial planning policies.

Fishing also plays an extremely important role in the economies of countries like Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland and, to a certain extent, Norway. In other countries, such as Portugal, small-scale inshore fishing plays a leading role. Resources in Portugal’s territorial waters (12-mile limit) account for 83% of the value of the country’s fish production, and fishing in those waters provides 80% of Portuguese fishermen’s jobs. It should be noted that although Europe exports part of its fish production, it still imports more than it exports.2

There are, of course, no more uncharted lands to be discovered today, but exploration of the oceans remains far from complete. The scientific and technological problems it raises have changed in scope and nature: the oceans have become a vast research laboratory on a worldwide scale and a testing ground for new technologies. Marine research provides essential information on the role of the oceans in climate change, the behaviour of coastal areas and their ecosystems, and the mechanisms that determine how living marine resources evolve.

Some communities in Europe have considerable seafaring skills handed down through the ages from generation to generation (seamen, fishermen, shipbuilders, fitters, engineers and so on). Unfortunately the existence of some of these communities is threatened today by international competition and by fishing policies which very often fail to ensure the viability and future of maritime communities.

3.       BIOLOGICAL REFERENCE POINTS FOR THE MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION OF FISH RESOURCES

Long-term objectives for fisheries management will have to take account of scientific research on fishing, population dynamics and climatic changes likely to affect stocks.

It will be necessary to assess the current state of stocks and their exploitation, and the effects of the different types of fishing on catches and stock quantities.

i.       Target Reference Points (TRPs) are the levels of fishing mortality (or stock biomass) which should ensure sustainable, long-term exploitation of stocks on the basis of the best possible catches. That is why they can also be termed Management Reference Points.

There are various proposals for TRPs, such as the Ftarget fishing levels (or Btarget biomass levels). For management purposes, TRPs are converted either directly or indirectly into changes in the fishing effort. Regulatory measures include TACs and the corresponding quotas, fishing licences, and limits on the time ships spend at sea.

Technical measures, such as minimum mesh sizes, are also applied to correct the exploitation pattern and ensure greater survival of juveniles.

Attempts have also been made to impose minimum sizes for fish landed as a technical means of discouraging fishing in zones and at times where there is a concentration of small fish, but these measures merely appear to increase the quantity of fish rejected to the sea. It should be pointed out that, in order to prevent rejection of fish, fishing legislation in Norway and Iceland makes it compulsory to land all fish that are caught.

A TRP-based management strategy must also allow for the social and economic consequences of applying the above-mentioned regulatory measures.

ii.       Limit reference points (LRPs) are the maximum levels of fishing mortality or the minimum biomass levels not to be exceeded in order to avoid the strong likelihood of a drastic drop in stock quantities.

Where there is evidence of recruitment overfishing, LRPs are an important means of remedying the situation.

They are maximum levels aimed essentially at the conservation of marine stocks, which is why they are also known as Conservation Reference Points.

There are several suggestions for LRPs, which will be referred to here in general terms as Flim fishing levels (or Blim biomass levels). It will be noted that LRPs are more restrictive than TRPs.

iii.       The Precautionary Principle proposed by the FAO in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995) states that limitations, uncertainties or the absence of data for assessing or estimating parameters should not be regarded as justifying failure to apply the regulations, especially where there are indications of over-exploitation of stocks. Even on the basis of acceptable premises, it should be possible to estimate the expected effects linked to possible errors in the estimation of parameters.

The Precautionary Approach suggests that the findings of fisheries research should be adopted by management for the purposes of regulatory measures and that attention should be paid to the socio-economic and technical conditions governing fishing.

Thus the uncertainties surrounding estimates of current fishing levels, F, and current biomass levels, B, determine new reference points known as Precautionary Approach Reference Points, Fpa or Bpa.

With sufficient data these reference points can be estimated with probabilities corresponding to the deviations in current fishing levels. In all cases Fpa (or Bpa)s must be estimated on the basis of admissible suppositions and attention must always be paid to the consequences of adopting alternative hypotheses for stock and fishing characteristics.

The new limits (Fpa or Bpa) stemming from the precautionary approach will therefore be more restrictive than the LRPs. The practical consequences of these new limits are reflected in more stringent regulatory measures for controlling the fishing effort than if there were sufficient data. This amounts to penalising due to the absence of reliable data and information.

The adoption of biological reference points involving a Reduction in the Fishing Effort always causes social and economic problems. Some authorities propose the method of reducing fleet capacity by dismantling ships. Of course, dismantling can serve to curb the fishing effort. However, there are alternative methods likely to produce the same effect, such as limiting the time ships spend at sea, with appropriate monitoring of their operations. These methods have the advantage of being less radical and less painful, and not producing irreversible situations in national fleets, especially in the small-scale fishing sector; they help to maintain a strategic fishing capacity.

The above-mentioned biological reference points presuppose a relative exploitation pattern. This means that some technical measures designed to protect juveniles, such as minimum mesh size or minimum size of fish landed, are regulated and monitored. In any event, as it is always advisable to review biological parameters such as those for maintenance, the assessments of biological reference points will have to be updated, bearing in mind the changes made or any other corrections considered necessary to the relative exploitation model. The new biological reference points to be established will differ from the previous ones.

4.        SYSTEMS FOR MANAGING LIVING MARINE RESOURCES

In connection with all management systems tried out so far there has been general acknowledgement of the advantage of TACs (where they exist) and of the value of apportioning them between individual boats or fishing zones on a quota basis. The main differences between systems lie in the transferability or otherwise of individual TAC quotas and the manner in which responsibility for management, including supervision, is defined.

The system of transferable individual quotas (TIQs) has been proposed by various economists, who believe that fisheries management problems stem from shared ownership of fishing resources. They have therefore suggested a management system which in practice “privatises” fishing zones and resources, allowing them to be exploited by whoever is most “efficient” in “economic” terms. Individual quotas may be sold on the market by auction.

The features of this system are deemed to be justified, in theory, by economists, in particular by those who believe that the economy should be governed by absolute market laws, under which the most “efficient” users from an “economic” viewpoint survive and the least “efficient” are eliminated.

Under the “joint management” system, by contrast, responsibility for managing resources is given to those who directly exploit them – shipowners, fishermen, their professional organisations, etc. – and transfer of ownership of individual quotas allocated to boats is prohibited. This system has regard to the social aspects of fisheries policies, and seeks to involve in its management (including monitoring) all those who exploit fishing resources.

These, then, are the two main systems currently in use as alternative means of fisheries management.

However, it is worth mentioning another fisheries management system of a particular kind whereby responsibility for exploiting and monitoring the fishing ground is given to a local community, as is the case in some coastal fishing grounds in Japan and Alaska.

All these alternative systems are aimed at reducing state control of fishing to a minimum by transferring control to “direct users”. Quotas are allocated according to criteria which vary from one system to another. They may be either discussed and approved by the users or allocated on a selective basis to the “most efficient boats from an economic viewpoint”. No system can be uniformly applied to all situations, all resources or all fishing grounds.

The system of “transferable individual quotas” is perhaps more acceptable in the case of fishing grounds using more advanced fishing methods or in geographically isolated countries. However, it cannot be applied to fishing grounds containing several species or to countries participating in regional co-operation systems.

The “joint management” system is more acceptable in the case of fishing grounds using traditional equipment and methods or those where fisheries products are intended for food or processing industries at local or national level.

By far the best solution is undoubtedly to decentralise fisheries management policies according to the biogeographical and social characteristics of each country or each zone.

5.       EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE, TERRITORIAL WATERS / 12-MILE LIMIT AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a zone extending up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines, in which the coastal state has “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources” and exercises its jurisdiction.

In some countries the EEZ covers the entire continental shelf on which the majority of fishing resources are located.

Under the Convention, “the coastal state shall determine its capacity to harvest the living resources of the exclusive economic zone. Where the coastal state does not have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it shall give other states access to the surplus of the allowable catch”.

The Convention also provides that the territorial waters (or territorial sea) are an integral part of the national territory and it accordingly awards the coastal state exclusive sovereignty over this zone.

The territorial waters can extend up to 12 nautical miles from the straight baselines and sovereignty over this zone extends to the airspace, water and seabed. Most countries, including the member states of the European Union, have adopted the 12-mile limit for territorial waters owing, firstly, to the importance of the resources located in the waters under national jurisdiction and secondly, to their importance in terms of production and employment, especially for small-scale fishing, which is concentrated in the 12-mile zone and the contiguous zone. Most fishermen in European countries carry on their occupation in coastal waters, and this is of particular importance in the southern European countries.

In many seaboard regions of Europe, which depend largely on fishing, coastal fishing is the main fishing activity and ensures the survival of many fishing communities.

For example, small-scale fishing alone accounts for 80% of the fleets of Spain, France, Greece and Portugal. Resources in Portugal’s territorial waters account for 83% of catches and fishing activity in those waters provides 80% of all fishing jobs.

This justifies maintaining the existing system, since it restricts access to the territorial waters and therefore safeguards the principle that the 12-mile zone is used exclusively by the fleets of the coastal state concerned.

Likewise, safeguarding the concept of preferential access to resources in a zone contiguous to the territorial waters is justified in order to cover coastal fleets’ prime fishing resources and to monitor and protect those resources. In some countries this zone could be extended to 50 miles.

Spain has in fact recently established a fishing protection zone in the Mediterranean, extending to 49 nautical miles, to exercise sovereign rights in order to preserve living marine resources and manage and control fishing activity.

As stated in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, October 1995), “Recognising the important contributions of artisanal and small-scale fisheries to employment, income and food security, states should appropriately protect the rights of fishers and fishworkers to a secure and just livelihood, as well as preferential access, where appropriate, to traditional fishing grounds and resources in the waters under their national jurisdiction” (Article 6, General Principles, paragraph 6.18).”

6.       FISHERIES RESEARCH

The requirements of sustainable development of living marine resources demand an integrated approach to the management of the oceans and coastal areas. Management policies should nonetheless be viewed with their own specific features.

Fisheries research is an essential tool of fisheries policy. It serves to identify the factors which determine resource evolution, to count existing stocks and to develop models for predicting future stock levels.

It must also allow for the increasingly close bond between fishing and the environment, especially in coastal areas with specific problems, where most small-scale fishing takes place.

An integrated scientific approach to the problems of renewable marine resources entails stepping up European co-operation in fisheries research and co-ordinating with the expertise and experience of fishworkers. This co-operation makes it possible to compare methods and improve the reliability of statistical data and predictive models. It makes the scientific expertise behind fisheries policies more pertinent.

Co-operation between European research institutes will help to improve our understanding of the biological impact of fishing on marine ecosystems, as well as enable us to improve the selectivity of fishing gear, assess its impact on the environment and resources, cycle variations and water movements, and study safety and working conditions on board fishing vessels, a field where much progress remains to be made. Launching joint research projects, including the joint use of research facilities, is important. Co-operation between research institutes, also involving industry, shipowners and fishermen, calls for commitment and responsibility on the part of states. Lastly, scientific and technical support for fishing activities is of particular importance, and pursuing an effective policy for such support is a major responsibility of states.

Besides its biological component, fisheries research should rely on scientific back-up in the areas of fishing and fish products technology, the environment, sociology and economics, as well as the experience of fishermen and shipowners. In all cases it should be linked to the government authority in charge of fisheries.

The primary aims are to:

-       direct research towards fisheries and fishing resources;

-       step up and improve data collection in this area;

-       convey the information in due course to all those concerned so that they may be analyse it;

- provide, rather than reducing, the funds required for the development of research and the initial and further training of researchers and technicians;

-       provide adequate supervisory staff, both scientists and technicians, and recruit the new staff required;

-       ensure that research is carried out, developed and disseminated in an independent, responsible manner;

-       develop co-operation with other institutes, scientific agencies and universities with direct or indirect links to the fishing industry, as well as organisations and activities in the fisheries sector, as part of an interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach.

It is therefore important to pay special attention to the existing international institutions, such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which has been carrying out research into marine biology and fisheries for almost a hundred years, in order to avoid any duplication of effort and to promote the co-ordination of research.

7.       MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND COASTAL MANAGEMENT

The coastal zone made up of the shoreline, the continental shelf and the regional seas is a fragile, ever-changing zone. The biological productivity of coastal areas is very high3 and they are also the scene of intense human activity: fishing, aquaculture, coastal trade, port activities, tourism. They receive waters contaminated by urban, agricultural and industrial pollutants that drain into rivers and their estuaries and from there into the sea. In many regions of Europe the coastline is subjected to heavy demographic pressure, particularly in the Mediterranean countries, where tourism is an important but seasonal activity with a strong impact on the environment and is responsible for serious environmental situations.

As already mentioned, fishing and aquaculture are activities closely linked to the environment. Understanding and predicting the behaviour of coastal areas means taking into account the diversity of ecosystems and the scale of economic activities (especially fishing, aquaculture, tourism and agriculture).

It is necessary to understand the whole series of physical, chemical and biological phenomena that condition coastal development, particularly its morphology and the ecosystems that develop there and may contribute, for example, to the erosion of a coastline or the periodic proliferation of algae, sometimes toxic, which can be a real hindrance to tourism and aquaculture. Research must contribute to progress on all these fronts; it is a tool for coastal protection and management policy. Progress has yet to be made in such areas as methods of forecasting and monitoring resource development4, impact studies on economic activities such as town planning, tourism and aquaculture, and the mechanisms responsible for coastal erosion or silting. The study of the role of coastal marshlands and their ecosystems as buffer zones is another aspect of action to save the coastline.

European co-operation in these areas should certainly be increased, especially in a regional context.

Coastal protection and development as part of integrated coastal planning and management policies are essentials on a European scale which must be taken into account in spatial planning policies, especially in view of the climatic changes forecast for the coming decades. This requires an integrated approach to economic activities in coastal areas, embracing biological resources, interaction with land-based activities such as farming, town planning and engineering (trading ports and marinas, seawalls and breakwaters etc).

In some countries tourism is an important economic activity, but it should not be the only one. National and European policies should aim to preserve occupations like fishing and aquaculture which provide steady jobs in rural coastal areas and small ports. Coastal development policy should also take account of the need to keep shorelines and coastal waters clean by eliminating sources of industrial and urban pollution.

It must also respect the landscape, which is all too often disfigured by uncontrolled building.

Strict legislation and international conventions prohibiting marine pollution must be implemented. The countries of Europe must co-operate actively in this field by periodically making joint surveys of the “state of health” of the coastal environment, by monitoring the observance of international regulations and by pooling their monitoring resources to detect accidental pollution.

The management of the oceans is what is at stake in an important debate that should be initiated by the deliberations and future conclusions of the Independent World Commission on the Oceans. The Commission is expected to submit its conclusions in 1998, the International Year of the Ocean5.

There are a number of common objectives to be achieved in this area:

-       to set in motion effective common mechanisms for managing fish resources and controlling access to them so as to ensure stock renewal, while avoiding any communitisation of territorial waters (within the 12-mile limit);

-       to ensure the survival, viability and future of fishing communities;

-       to develop and manage Europe’s coastal areas jointly, through integrated management approaches encompassing all economic activities (fishing, aquaculture, town planning, transport, tourism, ports etc);

-       to ensure that the fish products industry is compatible with resource conservation and management measures;

-       to take concerted action to eliminate chronic and accidental marine pollution from coastal areas by stepping up surveillance and preventive measures;

-       to pool efforts to develop marine research focusing on agreed objectives, firstly by boosting European co-operation in key areas relating to the goals of maritime policy and problems affecting the whole planet (eg climate change and resource depletion), and secondly by pooling resources (computing centres, satellites and oceanographic vessels).

In its Resolution 1012 (1993), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called on its member states to set up a European Marine Agency whose task would be to co-ordinate initiatives designed to help Europe gradually frame a coherent maritime policy, identifying its objectives and the resources required to achieve them, on the basis of the requisite interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach.

8.        SUMMARY

Living marine resources are of cardinal importance for the survival of humankind.

Exploiting resources and processing fish products are of fundamental importance for food supply and employment.

Fish stocks are renewable natural resources and are therefore able to regenerate themselves. Their sustainable exploitation is consequently an objective of fisheries management.

Fishing is a traditional activity which has long played a key part in the economy of some seaboard regions of Europe and functions on two levels: small-scale fishing and large-scale fishing.

Small-scale fishing, particularly in crisis situations, is strategically the most important section of the fleet on account of its contribution to the supply of fresh fish, its economical use of resources and its role in ensuring viable, settled fishing communities in coastal areas.

However, large-scale fishing is of strategic importance in terms of employment and volume of catches, as well as because it ensures the viability of a considerable proportion of processing industries and other economic sectors in several countries.

The self-renewable nature of fish resources is of fundamental importance. Biological characteristics must be the basis of fish resource conservation and management, but this does not mean that fisheries management should disregard social, economic and other effects.

As it is extremely harmful and destructive, marine pollution should be included in the same group as criminal destruction of fish with explosives or numbing devices.

The current situation of European fisheries demands that the authorities responsible for managing them take steps to ensure that in future stocks are harvested in a manner compatible with their renewal and with the survival of fishing and shipowning communities.

This means that measures will have to be adopted, as recommended by scientists, to control the fishing effort (fishing licences, limits on the time ships spend at sea, TACs and quotas), to ensure the survival of stocks and to protect juvenile stocks (minimum mesh size and minimum size of fish landed).

Controlling access to resources is also important. Measures such as ceiling levels per zone and the use of gear equipped with catch monitoring devices to encourage the reduction of accessory catches will have to be implemented and enforced. Satellite monitoring of the position of ships more than 15 metres in length and the time they spend in a zone will also have to become routine all over Europe. At the same time, it will be useful to assess the results achieved by the quota systems implemented in some countries.

All these measures require fishing fleets to adapt their activities annually to the resources available. Fishworkers’ and shipowners’ organisations must be involved in the decision-making process and supporting measures should be taken to meet the social consequences. With the help of its fishermen, Europe must promote fishing consistent with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, 1995). It must also take the same attitude with third countries whenever fishing agreements are concluded with them allowing European ships access to their EEZ. This attitude should also be adopted in international waters.

Given that a great majority of fish stocks are located in territorial waters and that fish products are essential for people’s food and wellbeing, it is essential to defend the sovereignty of coastal states over their national territory, including the 12-mile territorial waters, and access to the contiguous zone, which some countries should be extended to 50 miles.

Recognising that, as stated by the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, 1995), artisanal and small-scale fishing contributes a great deal to employment, income and food security, states must protect the rights of fishermen and other fishworkers accordingly, so as to provide them with fair living standards. The Code of Conduct also provides for preferential access to traditional fishing grounds and to resources in the waters under national jurisdiction.

Fisheries research must allow for the increasingly close bond between fishing and the environment. An integrated scientific approach to the problems of renewable marine resource management entails stepping up European co-operation in fisheries research in order to ensure the scientific expertise that will provide the basis for fisheries policy.

Fisheries policies must take account of the “precautionary approach” in stock management when scientific predictions, even where they are tentative or full information is lacking, suggest that overfishing stocks might threaten their renewal.

The Council of Europe member states should sign and ratify the 1995 United Nations Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

It is necessary to understand the whole series of physical, chemical and biological phenomena that condition coastal development, particularly its morphology and the ecosystems that develop there and may contribute, for example, to the erosion of a coastline or the periodic proliferation of algae, sometimes toxic, which are a real hindrance to tourism and aquaculture.

Care must be taken to ensure that research programmes on marine ecosystems make sufficient allowance for marine mammals.

In coastal areas aquaculture and fishing interact closely with the environment. A scientific approach to and integrated management of coastal areas are needed in order to research the interdependence between ecosystems, the physical and chemical parameters of the coastal environment and aquaculture activities. The national authorities have a duty to keep coastal waters clean.

Coastal protection and management must be incorporated into spatial planning policies. An integrated approach to coastal zone management is needed, allowing for activities such as fishing, aquaculture and tourism.

As 1998 has been designated by the UN International Year of the Ocean (also the focus of EXPO’98 to be held in Lisbon), the international community should take this opportunity of alerting public opinion in Europe, especially young people, to the importance of the oceans.

It would be useful to set up a European Maritime Agency which, in co-operation with various institutions in the European countries and with seafarers’ and shipowners’ organisations, would act as a think tank and a forum for discussion and co-operation on the issues surrounding the oceans, especially the sustainable conservation of their resources.

9.       CONCLUSIONS

1.       The importance of living marine resources, especially fish resources, lies chiefly in their contribution to the survival of humankind.

The exploitation and processing of fish products provide food and jobs for substantial sections of the population.

Fish resources are self-renewable, so their sustainable exploitation must be the prime objective of management. This means that a better knowledge of the existing fishing effort is needed.

2.       The over-exploitation of many fish stocks in Europe demands that the authorities responsible for managing them take steps to ensure that stocks are harvested in a manner compatible with their renewal, to control the fishing effort and to control access to resources in keeping with the specific features of each zone. This fisheries management policy should go hand in hand with measures to limit catches in the different zones and restrict the number of days ships spend at sea, to reduce accessory catches, to ban drift nets above a certain size, and to monitor the movements of large, sophisticated ships and extend satellite monitoring of fishing vessels over 15 metres in length to the whole of Europe. Given the existence of several different systems for managing living marine resources – joint management, transferable individual quotas, etc. – it would also be useful to take stock of the application of these different systems.

3.       In a context of excess fishing effort, it is essential that any policy to modernise fleets should take account of the foreseeable development of the resource, the specific situation of each country and fishing community and the size of the various countries' fishing fleets in relation to the size of each one's stocks.

4.       Measures to control the fishing effort and access to the resource must be accompanied by social support measures together with the appropriate funds.

5.       Small-scale fishing is strategically a most important section of the fleets (supply of fresh fish, economical use of resources, viability and stability of fishing communities), particularly in southern European countries.

6.       Small-scale fisheries contribute a great deal to employment, income and food security. States must therefore protect the rights of fishermen and other fishworkers to provide them with fair living standards and safeguard preferential access to traditional fishing grounds and to resources in the waters under their jurisdiction.

7.       Industrial fishing is also of great strategic importance because of its volume, the employment it generates and the industries and economies it thus makes viable.

8.       The concept of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) must be maintained as a zone extending up to 200 nautical miles in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights and has jurisdiction for the purposes of supply, conservation and management of natural resources in accordance with Articles 61 and 62 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

9.       The 12-mile territorial waters must be maintained. The sovereignty of coastal states over their national territory must also be established, with access to territorial waters exclusively reserved for the national fleets of the states concerned.

10.       In the contiguous zone preferential fishing rights must be granted to the coastal state as part of measures to monitor and protect resources. In some countries the possibility of extending the contiguous zone to 50 miles must be introduced where special geographical features require it.

11.       Biological characteristics are the basis of marine resource conservation and management. Management measures include fishing licences, monitoring the time ships spend at sea, TACs, quotas and protection of juvenile stock, without relying exclusively on policies for dismantling vessels.

12.       Access to resource exploitation must be subject to appropriate management, pursuing clearly defined objectives, based on fisheries research and aimed at achieving a proper balance between resource conservation and the survival of fishing communities, with different rules for access to exploitation depending on whether the resources are located in the territorial waters, the contiguous zone, the EEZ or the waters of third countries.

13.        The Parliamentary Assembly urges the member states of the Council of Europe to establish an effective monitoring system prohibiting fishing with drift nets above a certain size beyond the 12-mile limit, in accordance with Resolution No. 44-225 of 22 December 1989 of the United Nations General Assembly.

14.       Fishermen’s and shipowners’ organisations must be involved in decision making on the regulation of fishing and in the planning and application of management measures. These measures must allow for the diversity of bio-geographical conditions and fisheries production and take account of specific regional characteristics.

15.       Scientific research must form the basis of fisheries policies. The precautionary approach – Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, 1995) – must be borne in mind in fish stock management. This means that, even in cases of doubt or inadequate information, scientific predictions must be taken into account if they point to overfishing and especially indicate a risk of endangering the renewal of stocks.

An integrated approach to the management of renewable resources should be developed as part of closer scientific co-operation between states and between European research institutes. It may prove useful to launch joint research projects and compare methods, statistics and forecasting models.

16.       It will be advisable to assess the results of the different quota systems introduced by some countries. The appraisal and any proposals arising from it must be discussed with the participation of fishworkers’ and shipowners’ organisations.

17.       Fisheries research must allow for the relationship between fishing and the environment. An integrated scientific approach to the management of renewable marine resources entails stepping up European co-operation in fisheries research and other areas. Research programmes on marine ecosystems should also cover marine mammals.

18.       The member states of the Council of Europe should sign and ratify the 1995 United Nations Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.

19.       Aquaculture, fishing, tourism and the environment interact very closely in coastal areas, whence the need for integrated management of coastal areas, based on scientific research into the interdependence of coastal ecosystems and water-based activities.

20.       Coastal development policy should take account of the need to clean up the coastline in each country by eliminating sources of pollution, especially the dumping of industrial and urban waste in the sea. Town planning should respect coastal landscapes. Steps must be taken to curb or reverse the trend towards the spread of large conurbations along the coast and the urbanisation of extensive areas of coastline.

21.       The European countries must work together to apply international conventions banning marine pollution, take periodic stock of the “state of health” of coastal areas and develop and pool devices for detecting accidental and chronic pollution.

22.       Co-operation between marine research institutes must be developed to increase Europe’s scientific and technological potential. It must be based on jointly developed strategies and the joint conduct of projects, particularly in networks involving firms and public laboratories.

23.       It would be advisable to set up a European Maritime Agency to help develop a coherent vision of European maritime policy, especially on the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources, to identify ways of achieving the goals of this policy and to improve the co-ordination and use of European expertise and experience, particularly regarding fisheries. An agency (or observatory) of this kind would function in co-operation with other existing institutions to avoid duplication of effort.

24.       It is essential to alert European public opinion to the issues at stake in the oceans for Europe in 1998, the International Year of the Ocean and that of the World Exhibition in Lisbon. A joint effort is also needed to define objectives, identify priorities, devise methodologies and assemble the human and material resources needed to progress at regional and international level towards better knowledge of the oceans and their resources.

Reporting committee: Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Committee for opinion: Committee on Science and Technology

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none

Reference to committee: Order No. 522 (1996)

Draft resolution unanimously adopted by the committee on 1 September 1998.

Members of the committee: Mrs Johansson (Chairperson), MM. Seiler (Vice-Chairman), (Alternate: Frey), Figel (Vice-Chairman), MM. Aliko, Anton, Aylward, Bernardini, de Carolis, Carvalho, Chulakov, Čiupaila, Collavini, Eltz (Alternate: Radic), Etherington, Mrs Faldet, MM. Ghesquière, Hadjidemetriou, Haraldsson, Hornung, Janowski, Jeambrun, Kharitonov, Kiratlioglu, Kitov, Kofod-Svendsen, Korkeaoja, van der Linden, Linzer, Mrs Loule, MM. Malvy, Pesek, Pokol, Prusak, Regenwetter, Mrs Rugate, MM. Rupar, Sainz Garcia, Scheer (Alternate: Behrendt, Vice-Chairman), Steolea, Taylor John D., Telgmaa, Tripunovski, Vella.

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretary to the committee: Mr Sixto.


1 Seafood accounts for a significant proportion of human protein intake (15% according to the FAO).

2 In 1994 the European Union’s trading deficit for edible fish amounted to 6 billion ECUs.

3 They account for half the biological production of the oceans worldwide as well as some 90% of exploited marine resources.

4 For example, geographical information systems combining databases and mapping.

5 Which will be celebrated in particular with the World Exhibition in Lisbon in 1998.