Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1563-ii

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 18 October 2011

Members present:

Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair)

Thomas Docherty

Dan Rogerson

Amber Rudd


Examination of Witness

Witness: Professor Alex Rogers, University of Oxford, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Good morning, Professor Rogers, and welcome. Thank you very much for agreeing to participate in our inquiry into the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Could you just describe who you are and what you do, for the record?

Prof Alex Rogers: My name is Alex Rogers. I am Professor of Conservation and Biology at the University of Oxford and also a fellow of Somerville College. My main area of expertise is marine ecology, particularly deepwater ecology, and I have done quite a lot of work on the human impacts on marine ecosystems, which is more related to the policy parts of the work that I do.

Q2 Chair: We have received your State of the European Fisheries document, so will take that as read. Thank you for that. Turning to the state of the EU’s marine environment, how would you describe the current health of EU fish stocks?

Prof Alex Rogers: Very poor, and that is even if you compare them with the general situation globally. It is estimated that something like 80% or more of European fish stocks are fished beyond maximum sustainable yield. About 30% are in a severely depleted state. The global average for stocks of fish beyond MSY is about 25%.

Q3 Chair: What impact do you think the Common Fisheries Policy has had on the present state of the EU’s fish stocks?

Prof Alex Rogers: It has presided over the depletion of those stocks and a situation where those stocks are not being utilised to the maximum economic benefit of the European Union, but also a situation where the environmental damage associated with that fishing has been very extensive. That situation gets worse the farther south you go, so there is a dichotomy between northern and southern Europe in terms of the severity of that situation.

Q4 Chair: Do you think there any implications of warmer waters on fish stocks?

Prof Alex Rogers: In the north, fish stocks are probably more productive. We have very productive demersal fisheries and also pelagic fisheries in northern Europe, but those productive fisheries also occur in southern waters as well-things like hake, for example, in terms of demersal fisheries, and tuna in terms of pelagic fisheries. Yes, there is some weight in saying that northern waters are probably more productive but, at the same time, very productive fisheries in the south have been severely overexploited and probably to a greater extent in terms of proportion of stocks overexploited than the north.1

Q5 Chair: Do you think that is partly the practice of taking juveniles in the south?

Prof Alex Rogers: I think it is actually probably a worse situation in terms of scientific knowledge of those fish stocks and also in terms of monitoring, control and surveillance of those fisheries, and enforcement of fisheries regulations in southern waters, compared with the north.

Q6 Chair: What are the implications for EU fish stocks and marine ecosystems if a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy fails to tackle overfishing, in your view?

Prof Alex Rogers: The fisheries will remain in a state where we are not getting the maximum economic and employment benefits from those fisheries. I will give you an example of a figure from a paper recently, which suggested that, at the moment, we are taking about 7.6 million tonnes of fish from European waters. Under MSY, we could be taking more than 13 million tonnes. The yield of fisheries is severely reduced by the fact we are mismanaging those fisheries. In terms of environmental damage, that situation will continue to worsen if things are not improved in terms of environmental management of those fisheries. One example of that I showed in this particular presentation was the state of sharks and rays in the Mediterranean, where their conservation status is the worst in the world. Something like 42% of shark and ray species in the Mediterranean are threatened to various levels with local extinction.

Q7 Chair: I represent a small number of fishermen who fish in coble boats off Filey. At the moment, they fish lobster and crab very successfully, and they are extremely worried there might be, I think from the Department rather than from the EU, a cap put on the numbers of lobsters and crab that could be fished. Do you believe that would be damaging?

Prof Alex Rogers: I do not know about that specific case but, if a cap is implemented, I would suggest that would have to be based on scientific assessment of those stocks and the level of fishing mortality taking place within them. A cap would only occur if the view was that stock had been overexploited in some way. Climate change is coming into play across European waters as well, in that our waters are warming and biological communities are changing. In some cases, it is likely patterns of primary production, and therefore fisheries production, are going to change. Whatever we do in terms of fisheries management in the future in European waters, that is another area that has to be looked at and taken into account in terms of fisheries management.

Q8 Amber Rudd: On the science of trying to assess where the stocks have been overfished, sometimes people raise the issue that, due to the level of discards-which is a separate subject we will come on to later-this science is very inexact; you cannot tell what is being overfished and what is being preserved if you are not measuring the large amount of discards that may be taking place. How much confidence do you have in the information that you are providing and discussing about the level of stocks at the moment?

Prof Alex Rogers: The information that has come along with the CFP reform papers is quite informative in those terms. They state that, in 2011, there was insufficient information for 61% of European stocks to make an assessment of the state of those stocks. In that case, confidence cannot be that high in terms of what sort of situation those stocks are in. For fisheries managers, that means they, according to the precautionary principle, would have to err on the side of precaution in setting Total Allowable Catches for those types of stocks. Often something missed by people is that, the more you know about the state of a fish stock, its biomass and the level of fishing mortality being exerted on it, the more precise you can be about what a sensible offtake from that fishery would be.

Q9 Amber Rudd: That is quite significant. You are saying we do not have sufficient information to make an assessment for 61%, and yet the assessment being made is that the fisheries are being overfished. The fact is we do not have information on 61% of them.

Prof Alex Rogers: We have some form of information, but it is insufficient to make a good assessment of what the state of that stock is at this particular time.

Q10 Amber Rudd: It seems very flawed to be drawing conclusions that there has been overfishing to this extent, given that we do not have information on 61%.

Chair: How can we establish there has been overfishing if you are relying on a minority?

Prof Alex Rogers: You are right in some ways. It is very difficult to make an assessment of the state of those stocks, given the fact it has been suggested that, for something like 61% of stocks, we just do not have information to make an assessment of their state.

Q11 Amber Rudd: That does explain why the fishermen always say to us, "There are plenty of fish out there." They would, wouldn’t they, but it does explain why what they are saying and seeing does not seem to correspond with what the officials are saying.

Prof Alex Rogers: That depends on the particular stock that you are discussing. The other thing I would point out is when the Canadian cod stocks collapsed in the Northwest Atlantic, the fishermen were also saying there are plenty of fish out there. The reason for that was the fish were exhibiting something called densitydependent behaviour.

Q12 Amber Rudd: Is that panic?

Prof Alex Rogers: Essentially what happens is, as you remove biomass from the stock, the fish retreat to their most favoured areas of habitat, so the local density can remain very high. To somebody fishing in that precise area, it would seem that their catches are not being reduced. You need other forms of data, such as changes in the actual range of stocks and so on, to make a really good assessment of what is going on with that particular fishery.

Q13 Amber Rudd: One of the criticisms of the previous CFP is it failed to prioritise between what are often seen as the competing objectives of environmental, economic and social sustainability. Do you think the current proposals try to regularise that, i.e. prioritise them?

Prof Alex Rogers: I think they do. There are certainly good words in the CFP reform about moving stocks towards a situation where they can produce maximum sustainable yield, using the precautionary principle and science to try to move those stocks towards sustainability. My worry is, certainly in the case of scientific advice, within that CFP reform there is no stipulation that scientific advice forms say an absolute maximum catch in terms of the TACs that can be recommended. In fact, there was a very interesting paper recently by a scientist called Mora and colleagues, where they showed that, regardless of how good the science is behind your fishery, if the process between the scientist and getting the Total Allowable Catches out, which fishermen then catch their fish by, is nontransparent and open to manipulation-either by politicians in developed countries for socioeconomic or political reasons or, in the case of lessdeveloped countries, for bribery and corruption-the lack of transparency in that process to reach a decision on what can be taken from the fishery undermines all the science.

Q14 Amber Rudd: The proposed objective for the new CFP is to try to return the fisheries to sustainable levels by 2015. Do you think that is a reasonable aim?

Prof Alex Rogers: It has been estimated, on the basis of looking at a number of stocks for which there are data, that is not going to be possible for about one-fifth of stocks that are severely depleted. About 22% was the figure that was reached. Certainly for other stocks, it is attainable, possibly, by 2015, but this is going to require the closure of fisheries or significant reductions in the current quantities of fish being taken from many stocks.2

Q15 Amber Rudd: Do you think it should spell that out, saying how much the fleet needs to be reduced by or the areas where fish need to be less aggressively fished?

Prof Alex Rogers: Absolutely, yes.

Amber Rudd: You would like to see that spelt out more.

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes. Overcapacity is a major issue in terms of European fisheries. That capacity problem has to be tackled so the fishing power of the fleets fishing these stocks matches the actual resource available.

Q16 Amber Rudd: Are there examples in other countries where you think that has been successfully achieved?

Prof Alex Rogers: There are examples around the world, certainly from places like Iceland and Norway, where they have implemented an ITQ system and used that to effectively draw down the size of the fleet to match the resource. That has been quite successful. Again as part of the CFP reform, they are looking at bringing in these types of systems-individual transferable quota systems. There is little doubt that those systems do lead to significantly more success in terms of managing fisheries sustainably, but there have been concerns raised about the ability under some ITQ systems for a small number of concerns to basically end up holding much of the quota for stocks. ITQ systems have to be implemented in quite a cautious way to get the benefit from them in terms of improved sustainability of the fisheries and reducing fleet capacity, and also to really protect whatever policy you are trying to implement in terms of running a fishery.

Q17 Amber Rudd: They did reduce capacity in Iceland and Norway while maintaining the fisheries.

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes.

Q18 Dan Rogerson: On the interaction of various policies on the marine environment, is the proposed CFP consistent with the EU’s other environmental policies or, indeed, its international commitments?

Prof Alex Rogers: That is an area where I think it falls quite short. My particular expertise is mainly in international commitments, and I think there it falls short if you go right back to UNCLOS-the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea-and then the UN 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement, where they talk about MSY being a minimum standard by which fisheries should be managed. It is not the goal; it is a minimum standard. Then there is a whole host of other aspects of UNCLOS, UN FSA and the Convention on Biological Diversity around the sustainability of fisheries, the protection of associated or dependent species in the same regions as these fisheries, the application of subsidies, and also setting aside areas for conversation or protection. Certainly the CFP reform seems to fall short in all of those areas in terms of our international commitments.

Q19 Dan Rogerson: Talking about MSY as you are there, the CFP has the objective of achieving that by 2015. Would we breach agreements if we do not hit that target?

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes, there is the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation where states agreed that, by 2015, they would move their fish stocks to a situation where they could produce MSY, so we would be in breach of that implementing agreement. I think the date for the Convention on Biological Diversity is 2020 for most of the strategic goals.

Q20 Dan Rogerson: So it would be later. If we missed the 2015 date, we would have a bit of leeway.

Prof Alex Rogers: For CBD, yes.

Q21 Amber Rudd: Can I just take us back to discards, which, as we know, have caught the public imagination so much? The Commission has proposed a ban on certain stocks. Do you think that is going to be achievable?

Prof Alex Rogers: I am not sure whether it would be achievable. That would depend on the level of monitoring, control and surveillance of those fleets. The idea is that, for certain commercial stocks-and there is a phased introduction of this between 2014 and 2016-for certain species, all of the catch has to be landed. If those catches are over quota, basically those fish are sold for fish meal and so on, at way below the market price for those fish. It is a financial incentive for fishers not to catch too much.

Q22 Amber Rudd: Are there any strategies you think the CFP should be considering to try to eradicate discards?

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes, technical measures on the actual fishing gear can be very effective at reducing bycatch. The best example is albatross bycatch with longlining, probably in South Georgia and the South Atlantic/SubAntarctic, where the bycatch of albatross has been reduced to virtually zero.

Q23 Amber Rudd: Can you just explain how that has been achieved?

Prof Alex Rogers: What was happening there was, as long lines are deployed from the vessels, seabirds dive on the bait on hooks are snagged on the hooks and drown. What they did was stipulated deployment of the gear only at certain times of the day. They also deploy streamers above the lines that frighten the birds away from the lines, and they also deploy those lines through shoots. That has been tremendously effective at reducing bycatch.

Q24 Amber Rudd: Would you propose a situation where you leave the banning of discards on certain stocks and have the fishermen decide what technical measures to take in order to implement that, or would you start by saying, "These are the technical measures."? If so, what other technical measures, if any, should we be considering or asking them to consider?

Prof Alex Rogers: Most of these European fisheries are trawl fisheries, so the technical measures would have to involve modifications to the gear. Simple things like changing the shape of a mesh or altering mesh size, putting in devices to exclude certain types of fish or allow them to escape are probably the types of measures we would be talking about for those types of gears. Ultimately, you probably cannot solve all the issues around bycatch with those types of measures. That is where an ecosystembased approach to fisheries management has to come in, where you look at perhaps excluding certain types of fishing from certain areas or even banning fishing altogether from some areas where there is either bycatch of juveniles of your commercial stocks or a species that has been negatively impacted by those fisheries, such as sharks, is commonly caught.

Q25 Amber Rudd: It seems to me that, coming back to our earlier conversation, you have to have a system whereby, however much you reduce the discards-which we are all trying to achieve-there is also a way of measuring what is being caught. Otherwise we have the situation, as you said earlier, where we are not really measuring things so we cannot be certain of what the conclusions are.

Prof Alex Rogers: You are absolutely right. Indeed, in deepwater fisheries, which I have mostly dealt with, which are generally on the high seas but in the Northeast Atlantic region, to be honest, I do not think we know what is being caught in many cases. In fact, that was proven recently by an ICES (International Council for Exploration of the Sea) study, where NEAFC (North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission), the regional fisheries management organisation in the region, asked ICES to help them identify what was being caught. On the returns of the fishing vessels, 70% said they were only catching one species, which was completely impossible given that the fishery was known to be a multispecies fishery with a high level of bycatch.

Q26 Amber Rudd: One of the consequences of the efforts to abolish discards would be, we hope, better information on the fishing.

Prof Alex Rogers: Absolutely. For some of the species on that list of discard species, it would dramatically improve our knowledge of fishing mortality.

Q27 Chair: If you are depending on landing fish for your scientific assessment of the numbers, then presumably the fact that fish are being discarded means you are unable to quantify those numbers.

Prof Alex Rogers: That is absolutely correct, yes.

Q28 Chair: We do not really know the level of fish stocks and we do not know the levels of discards.

Prof Alex Rogers: This is a major problem, particularly if, as has been said, you are catching large numbers of juvenile fish of a species you are trying to manage. A lot of these issues become particularly acute because of the form of management we use, which is often singlespecies management and basically singlespecies assessment. Those forms of management require a high level of data input, and they are particularly prone to difficulties resulting from not having data on what is being caught. In most cases, I should think those discards would probably die, so that effectively is fishing mortality. That is not in all cases; for some species you can return them to the sea and they will survive.

Q29 Chair: Is there an alternative to single-species management?

Prof Alex Rogers: There are methods for looking at multispecies assessments, but also there are ways of managing at the ecosystem level, where you are looking at the wider impacts of fishing mortality and the other destructive effects of fishing on the system. One thing that has been quite successful in the Northwest Atlantic, in terms of assessing some of these effects, are fishery-independent surveys. These are where you send out a scientific vessel that does a specific set of sampling and it maintains that sampling protocol for years. By doing that, you can identify trends in the populations of the species you are sampling.

In Iceland, I believe, they get the fishers themselves to take part in those trawl surveys. This can be quite an effective way of improving communication with the fishers. If cod, for example, are decreasing in abundance, they can really see that in these set types of trawl survey. I think there certainly would be strong benefits in European waters in undertaking a programme of some form of fishery-independent sampling and maintaining it over the medium to long term.

Q30 Thomas Docherty: Just coming back to this issue about scientific advice being followed, my understanding is that the Fisheries Council is setting, on average, a Total Allowable Catch that is about 50% higher than the scientific advice. Does there need to be a stricter provision in the regulation on linking the Total Allowable Catch to the scientific advice?

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes, that is what I was saying earlier. The actual figure is, on average, about 45% since 2003. We have seen a situation where those excess TACs have led to the decline and potential local extinction of species, such as bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and Northeast Atlantic.

Q31 Thomas Docherty: How feasible would it be to require the catch to mirror the scientific advice, either exactly or, say, no more than 10% above it?

Prof Alex Rogers: I think it is entirely feasible to do that. I do not understand why that has not been done. I know there is this suspicion that the scientific advice is very shaky and, for many stocks, there are no recent assessments. The thing is you have to adapt the TAC to the quality of that knowledge. Fishery scientists are quite capable of placing confidence limits or levels of confidence with their recommendations. Given that the CFP reform is supposed to be being implemented in a precautionary manner, then a precautionary manner would be to take that scientific advice. If a state could produce scientific evidence that scientific advice was for some reason incorrect, then that would be a ground for raising a TAC on a stock, but there are no other grounds, in my view, for setting TACs above scientific recommendations.

The simple fact is you cannot argue with nature. You cannot just make a political decision to take more fish than scientific information is suggesting and expect that stock to remain in a good state of health. In the case of bluefin tuna, what has happened there is, consistently, TACs were probably near double scientific recommendations. On top of that, the monitoring, control and enforcement were very poor on those fisheries and actual levels of take was double the TACs, so you end up with a situation where the actual catch is somewhere near four times the original scientific recommendation.

Q32 Thomas Docherty: On this issue of gaps in data or lack of data, does the proposed regulation contain strong enough measures to make sure that Member States comply with the need to provide data?

Prof Alex Rogers: Which way, in terms of actually providing the data or making those data public, or both?

Q33 Thomas Docherty: Both really. Effectively, there is no point in having data if it is not made public, unless I have missed something.

Prof Alex Rogers: Scientists working in this country have come across this recently where, despite European regulations to release data on, for example, where fishing vessels were fishing within a time limit of three years of that fishing taking place, many states have simply ignored those requests. Even where there are regulations saying that data should be made available, they are not by many states. If a stipulation was that a TAC formed a maximum catch in some way, it would encourage states to undertake the research to gather data to improve their knowledge of the state of stocks. The potential is that, if you know more about stock, you can set TACs with much greater confidence and, in some cases, higher than you would set in a situation where you have very limited information, because you have to be more precautionary in that situation.

Q34 Amber Rudd: Why is the assessment so despondent about fish stocks, given there is so little information about such a large amount of it? Is there any indication that we are right to say, "We have not got the information, but it is certainly going to be worse than we know."?

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes. Something I did not mention before are the studies being carried out. I will pull out one by Froese and a colleague in 2010, where they took 54 stocks for which there was good information. Based on those stocks, they found that something like 80% were fished beyond MSY and 23%, I think, were severely depleted. From this we have this figure of 22% of stocks being a situation where they could not, even if we stopped fishing, be recovered to a state where they can produce MSY by 2015 (see footnote 2 for reference). That is the situation for the stocks for which we do have information.

Amber Rudd: It clearly points to the direction, which is bad.

Prof Alex Rogers: Yes.

Q35 Chair: We have a couple of questions to put in writing, but is it correct and do you agree that Commission officials have said informally that it is not possible, within EU law, to set a binding requirement on the EU to follow scientific advice? Surely, if Common Fisheries Policy is going to set a proper conservation and sustainable policy, it should be on the basis of scientific advice.

Prof Alex Rogers: Absolutely. In fact, the CFP reform says the TACs they set should be based on scientific advice, but I see no mechanism by which that can be enforced upon the fisheries ministers, Council or whatever. Although the words are in there, the intent at least on paper is to have those assessments taken into account in terms of setting TACs. There is nothing in there, to my mind, that concretely changes the situation from what it is at the present time.

Chair: You have been very generous with your time. Thank you very much. We may write to you with a couple of further questions, but we are very grateful. Thank you very much.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Aniol Esteban, Head of Environmental Economics, and Rupert Crilly, Researcher in Environmental Economics, New Economics Foundation (nef), gave evidence.

Q36 Chair: Good afternoon, welcome and thank you for participating in our inquiry. Would you like to, in turn, introduce yourselves for the record and give your position as well? Thank you.

Aniol Esteban: I am Aniol Esteban. I am Head of Environmental Economics at the New Economics Foundation. The New Economics Foundation is a thinktank. We try to do economics as if people and the planet mattered and we are working on a particular project called Economics for Fair and Sustainable Fisheries, which aims to generate evidence to support a change towards sustainable fisheries. As you can tell by my name and accent, I come from Spain; a fishpredator nation, which makes it a challenge to work on this subject in the UK. We are not only working in the UK but also exerting lots of pressure to ensure that other countries follow the right direction. Spain is a key one as well.

Rupert Crilly: Thank you for inviting me. My name is Rupert Crilly and I work with the New Economics Foundation as well, as a researcher, alongside my colleague Aniol. I am predominantly working on fisheries, and I am the author of two reports, the Money Overboard report on discarding and Value slipping through the net, which was on access criteria for fisheries in the EU.

Q37 Chair: Can I just ask at the outset-we will not go into Galicia versus Filey or Hastings-but some of the proposed reforms are groundbreaking from the Commission but, in terms of the legal regulation and the legal basis, are you confident from where you sit that there will be agreement on achieving such a legal basis on regional control and what, for example in Spain, would "regional control" mean?

Aniol Esteban: We have not looked much at those issues. I know that there is a need to take the decision from the EU level to the national level in some aspects, and that can bring some benefits to the countries that do the right thing and do the opposite for countries that do the wrong thing. We have not worked enough on those issues to have an opinion.

Q38 Chair: That is fair enough. In the draft Common Fisheries proposal and regulation, do you believe it is sufficiently clear and the provisions in the draft regulation achieve what Commissioner Damanaki has said they will achieve?

Aniol Esteban: As was said earlier, there is some good wording, but it is not enough or strong enough to ensure that fish stocks will be restored and used in the best possible way to benefit society, which is what the objective of the overall Common Fisheries Policy is. There is a mismatch between the weakness of the wording, the weakness of the articles, the way they are going to do it, and the way funds are going to be used as well, with the ambition of the overall objective of the use of a commonly owned resource.

Q39 Chair: In terms of what we have just discussed about any reform being on the basis of scientific evidence, do you believe that the Commission has the will, or is there the will in the Council of Ministers, to proceed on that basis?

Aniol Esteban: I think the Commission has been brave on some aspects and they have managed to put in good wording on scientific advice as well. It is quite interesting how much questioning there is about the certainty of the data and the assessments, but it always surprises me how much questioning there is of the fisheries or climate change data. We often forget that there is a much bigger margin of error with economic forecasts, which actually drive Government policy. I like to take the view of Martin Weitzman of Harvard that, if there is a significant, or even small but significant, probability of collapse of our fisheries, that needs to be weighted more than the certainty around it. The Commission realises the need to follow scientific advice, but as was said earlier, there is no clear mechanism by which they can enforce that.3

Q40 Chair: The Commission sets the general objective to restore stocks to levels that produce the maximum sustainable yield by 2015. Do you believe that the regulation would do better to set out more specific and binding targets on catches or capacity, rather than relying on what is the general aim?

Aniol Esteban: I think that the overall objective of MSY by 2015 is good and needs to stay. They need to be clearer on the amount of overcapacity-how much and where is the excess of the fleet. I agree they need to have stronger targets on overcapacity, yes. Rupert, I do not know if you want to add something on that.

Rupert Crilly: Essentially, as far as I understand your question, the issue is more around setting MSY levels as a sort of conceptual goal for fisheries, without setting actual TACs, because that is difficult to do. Forecasting TACs and fish populations from now until 2015 is close to unfeasible for fisheries scientists. They end up doing it incrementally, year by year, on the actual MSY levels for that year and what TACs would be able to achieve those.4

Q41 Amber Rudd: Could I just pick up the conversation with you about discards? I think your evidence was a bit scathing about the banning of discards as an approach by the CFP. Do you have any other proposals as to how the eradication of discards could be achieved, apart from banning them? Which is your preferred approach?

Aniol Esteban: We think that banning discards would not necessarily prevent the unwanted catch, and there needs to be much more effort on selective gear to prevent that unwanted catch happening from the beginning. It is quite interesting that we always hear about this Project 50%. It is the only project I hear about, which makes me think there has not been enough investment and effort put into trying to find new ways of reducing unwanted catch. That is to me one clear aspect that needs to be taken into account.

The other one is when one considers who is allowed to fish and where, and when one considers how you distribute a quota. You could set a criterion that says those who are creating and generating lower discards will have priority. You can have the ban, but that needs to be supported by other measures that create a framework that incentivise not catching them in the first place.

Rupert Crilly: What we found in our report is that the discarded fish have a real economic value, whether they were landed or left in the sea. To expand on that, if they were left in the sea, they could be caught later after they had reproduced or grown in size, and they could be worth more. If we had avoided those in the first place, we found that leaving them in the sea would be of much greater economic value and more ecological worth to the stock that is already overfished, which is why it is important to have more selective gear in order to catch the highest value fish while sparing the lower value ones, such as the young, juvenile fish. Selective gear seems to be more of a priority.

The other danger that we are worried about is catching fish that are juvenile, perhaps even below the minimum catching size, and selling them, and essentially creating a market and demand for this that would create perverse incentives to catch more; you might be able to keep all your discards if there were a discard ban, but you just increase the pressure on a stock that is already overfished.5

Q42 Amber Rudd: We need to have a better approach to try to achieve the eradication of discards is what you seem to be indicating, but do you have concerns that we need to ensure we take the public with us, who perhaps are not as sophisticated in understanding how we achieve discards? We want their support for the CFP.

Aniol Esteban: Getting the support of the public is crucial to achieve policy change. There has been a very clear example with discards of how lots of public pressure has driven this proposal and increased the likelihood of it passing. There is public outrage about discards. As Rupert was saying earlier, it is quite worrying that we hear more about creating markets for discards than about preventing them in the first place. It is a bit like trying to solve climate change through purchase of carbon offsets rather than reducing carbon emissions in the first place. There needs to be a balance between where the effort and emphasis are placed. I have seen the Government in particular starting with all these initiatives like Fishing for the Markets. We understand that; if you have caught it, make some use of it, but I do not understand how you can get rid of discards by creating a market for them.

Rupert Crilly: One addition to that is it seems important that fisheries are a public resource and should generate public views. It is an important issue. Garnering that support is a tricky question and something that Fish Fight managed to do successfully, but there are plenty of issues that need more public support.

Q43 Chair: Can I just ask you one thing on the perverse incentive and also something Mr Esteban said about it being difficult to create the market? There are obviously celebrity chefs who would do this, but is one of the perverse consequences possibly that you then have overfishing? If you go into that species, you then encourage more fishing and, potentially, overfishing in a new species, so are just moving the problem on? Is that a perverse consequence?

Rupert Crilly: Yes, it is one of the consequences. Even with a discard ban, you could actually exacerbate the pressure on the stocks by catching more of the fish that you normally discard, landing them all and generating economic revenues from this, which would encourage fishermen to continue this sort of behaviour. The same holds true for other parts of this programme we are talking about, where they are directing pressure on to other species that are less exploited. We heard earlier about scientific advice not really covering 61% of the stocks. Putting pressure on to these ones, when we have very little understanding of what their health is, could be a dangerous concept if we do not know what the pressure is and what the effects are of the actions we are taking. Even if it were marginally successful, it would also have to displace the pressure from the original target species, such as cod. If it does not, if it only complements that, then it just exacerbates the problem on both that stock and the new ones.

Aniol Esteban: The theory is quite good in the sense that, if you displace demand for cod towards mackerel, and mackerel is fine, that is a great achievement. In practice, what is likely to happen is that demand for cod will be stable and you will create additional demand for mackerel, so the total fish consumption will go up. Our report Fish Dependence shows how we are already consuming more than our EU seas can produce, so that is not a good outcome.6

Q44 Thomas Docherty: Forgive me; I probably should know this. Are we eating more, the same or less fish than we were 10 years ago?

Aniol Esteban: We are eating more fish. The projections from the FAO report earlier this year showed that we have reached a historic peak of consumption globally. If we look at trends in Europe, fish consumption is on the rise. If you look at projections over the next 30 years, they are on the rise. In the UK, they are projected to be more stable rather than being on the rise and, in Spain and Portugal, they are projected to be stable because they are already so high that you cannot possibly go much higher. The projection is that fish consumption is on the rise, and we are constantly being bombarded with the message that fish is good for you and we need more of it. It is great but, if it is so great, let’s make sure we have plenty in the future.

Q45 Thomas Docherty: Just to clarify, are we eating more as a total volume or as individuals, per capita?

Aniol Esteban: Per capita.

Thomas Docherty: Per capita is going up as well.

Aniol Esteban: Yes.

Rupert Crilly: Along with population growth.7

Thomas Docherty: It is both?

Aniol Esteban: Both.

Q46 Dan Rogerson: Work on this and reducing the amount of what is caught to help fish stocks to recover is inevitably going to have an impact on the fishermen and British fishermen in particular. Have you done some work on what you think the likely outcomes would be for the fishing industry and also for coastal communities?

Aniol Esteban: We have not done specific research on the shortterm costs of restoring fish stocks. We accept there will be some shortterm costs because, if you want to restore fish stocks, it means less pressure, less catch, less sales and less revenues, which could cause some pressure on fishermen and the fishing communities. What is clear is that the costs of not acting are much bigger than the costs of acting. It is always the same situation when there are proposals to restore fish stocks. We hear fishing communities or some sectors of the fishing industry saying this is going to create lots of job losses.

In reality, if you look at the future and in the mid term rather than the short term, you realise that the number of jobs that are going to be lost by not restoring that stock are going to be much higher. We do not have specific figures on job losses, but we need to change the perception that restoring fish stock is going to create unemployment, because not restoring it is going to cause many more job losses. The challenge is to create a way in which you can bridge, from this situation to the restoration of fish stocks, and find ways to let these fishing communities get by in the three, five or 10 years, depending on the stock, so that they can continue.

Rupert Crilly: We have a graph on numbers of fishermen active in the fishing industry in the UK.8 In the 1950s, it stood at close to 50,000. Now it is around one-fifth of that figure, 12,200, and that is without real conservation changes; the fishing levels have not been cut for the sake of conservation in huge numbers of fish stocks, which is what is needed now.

Another thing I would like to quote is a paper that came out recently talking about the discard ban feasibility in the EU, comparing it with the Norwegian and Russian experiences, where there are bans on discards at the moment and have been since the late 1980s. What they experienced was just four years of reduced profitability in the fishing industry.9 After that, Total Allowable Catches stand at somewhere near 600,000 tonnes for Northeast Atlantic cod. That compares with UK and EU TACs of around 20,000 tonnes in the North Sea (down from 250,000 tonnes in 1985). We accept that there is going to be reduced profitability, and there are surely measures that could be introduced to mitigate this. There are innovative ideas such as fish bonds, where future revenues can be passed back using financial mechanisms, completely independent of any Government regulations. That could help transition to healthier stocks.

Q47 Dan Rogerson: You mentioned one financial mechanism that could be used. Are there any other things you think Governments should be doing to alleviate the inevitable impact of this kind of huge change to an industry?

Aniol Esteban: Redirecting subsidies in the right way-it has become evident that there is a need for more data, information and research. You could use all the capacity and infrastructure of certain fleets to help improve on that front. 10

Q48 Thomas Docherty: On the issue of transferable fishing concessions, this is something that a number of the fishing bodies within the UK have expressed some concern about. I know the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation went through the roof when it first came out. I think the South West fishermen have also expressed concerns that what you would end up doing is trading out to other fleets from other Member States. Do you think this is an effective way to reduce fishing capacity within the Member States, and what impact do you think it is likely to have on either the UK fleet as a whole or on parts of the UK fleet?

Rupert Crilly: There have been some pretty heated debates about this issue, not just in the EU but around the world, especially in the States, where they have been introduced. Some of the outcomes that have reached highlevel publicity have been environmental outcomes, which have tended to be better in ITQ systems and rightsbased management, essentially due to a combination of factors but they include better enforcement and observation by government officials. That goes hand in hand with higher Government costs for the programmes than topdown level, such as the current EU TAC system, but there is better enforcement as well as incentives directed towards more conservationminded fishing by the fishing industry itself.

There are cautionary points to be made, which the fishing industry is rightfully worried about, which include more consolidation of the fishing industry. In order to increase profitability, they need to reduce capacity. I am not sure yet what the mechanisms are around buying up the ITQs or the concessionary figures, but it might lead to a monopolisation, although that is possibly a little too extreme. Other concerns are voiced by some of the academics in the area-so good environmental outcomes but some things to be worried about socially.11

Aniol Esteban: Our main concern is that the Commission has only put in this measure as a mechanism to reduce overcapacity. There are problems with this mechanism. It does not guarantee good environmental outcomes and there are lots of concerns about the social outcomes that it delivers. It is a mechanism that can help you to reduce the quantity but overlooks quality (of vessels and gears). As we said earlier, if you want a fleet that is respectful of the environment, that creates lots of employment, reduces carbon emissions and delivers on a wide range of areas, you need to look at all these criteria. The mechanism that is being proposed now is giving lots of weight to the financial capacity to purchase a concession; therefore, it benefits those who have the capital to invest in that.

This is what leads me to the point about the concerns that different fleets might have: those that have the capital to invest will end up owning most of these concessions. Here is where Spain can be a huge problem; Spain is pushing for this to happen, because it has some companies that have made lots of money, mostly from tuna and other fish, that are ready to invest and buy lots of concessions. This is quite worrying, because it is going to benefit companies that are not delivering for the public-not for the Spanish public or the European public as a whole.

Q49 Thomas Docherty: Following on from that, you were talking about the type of fishing industry that we would want to see, and you mentioned just then the issue of employment. My understanding is you have argued we should have a fishing fleet that has quite a large employment footprint, but that to me is counterintuitive because that surely is a less efficient method of fishing. How would you answer that?

Aniol Esteban: We need to redefine the concept of efficiency. If we define efficiency in terms of best value to society, it might not be efficient for a private company to employ 10 people because they would make less profit, but it might be more efficient to society to have 10 people employed. Even if that company, whether it is private or public, generates less profit, it is benefiting more people, at least those 10 employees. It is about redefining that term "efficiency" and who the beneficiary of that particular enterprise is.

Q50 Thomas Docherty: Do you think that is likely to be something that would be adopted?

Aniol Esteban: If the Government has responsibility to ensure this resource is used in the best possible way for society-and we look at some societal objectives like creating employment, reducing carbon emissions, becoming less dependent on fuel and maintaining the sustainability of the resource-and you look at the fleet, you have some elements of the fleet that are performing better than others at doing that. Let us give them more access. Let us create a context that favours them. If you have a way of fishing that employs two people rather than one, that is something that should be taken into account, even if to the private owner of that particular company that may be counterintuitive.

Q51 Thomas Docherty: On the issue of reducing the size of the capacity for the fishing fleets, you have said in your evidence that should be one of the goals for the CFP: to have a capacity management programme. We have all heard that it has not succeeded in the last round. Can I ask why you would be confident that the EU would be any better this time round at doing capacity management?

Aniol Esteban: We can only hope that it would be better. The situation has reached a point at which urgent action is needed. We are in the middle of an economic crisis, where the public understands that mismanaging resources is not good and that fisheries are a part of that. There is a huge challenge in communicating this to the public and making the public realise there is a huge loss from mismanaging those resources. We have reached a point where there is not much alternative than trying to do things a bit better. It is more than confidence. "Confidence" is a difficult word.12

Q52 Thomas Docherty: Do you think the public does understand the need to reduce the stock taken? As you have already said, if we are eating more fish as a whole-well, I am not because I am vegetarian-that says to me people are not recognising the need to manage stocks. That is surely the complete opposite. It is just like we all think we should do more for the third world, and then go into Primark and buy lots of sweatshop clothing.

Rupert Crilly: I would agree with you, but I am not sure the connection has been made. There is certainly not consistent behaviour among the public that I can make sense of. They may well be concerned by this and end up keeping their levels of consumption while buying into, say, MSC programmes for sustainable fish, which is better than unsustainable fish of course. I cannot comment on whether they are consistent and why they make those decisions.

Aniol Esteban: There is an increased awareness by consumers, but they are being bombarded with conflicting messages, which are "eat more fish" and "there is overfishing". The public is a bit confused, I think, and we have not achieved the same level of understanding as there has been with discards, in terms of the public understanding the problem of taking one stock beyond its potential. Fish stocks are delivering much less than what they could for society, and people do not seem to understand that we are losing money; we are losing jobs; we are losing food.

Q53 Thomas Docherty: Do you think there should be a thread of the CFP about educating the public? Is it realistic that part of what the CFP does is explain to people what their fish options are?

Amber Rudd: To add to what you are saying there about the message we are giving people, as you have been saying, Mr Esteban, they are a bit confused: "Eat more fish," but "There is a problem with fish discards." Do you think we should try to refine that message to say what types of fish? The public is being told at the same time to eat fish and not to eat too much meat, because that is really bad for the environment. Maybe we need a policy that is a bit more refined, if we can get it through to them.

Aniol Esteban: Those messages need to be aligned. If we are saying, "Eat fish," it needs to be said with the right caveats. I think it is better not to say, "Do not eat fish until we have first restored fish stocks."

Amber Rudd: No, they will not like that.

Aniol Esteban: But if you look at the regulation for how public funds have been used in the past, they have been used to promote fish consumption. Let us have something in the regulation that says public funds will be used more towards restoring fish and towards educating the public on the problems. That could be done.

Q54 Chair: We are expecting the Commission to introduce its European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in November. What would you like to see the new Fisheries Fund do and what should it stop doing that it was doing before?

Aniol Esteban: We would like to see the Fund not contributing to overfishing. We would like to see a diversion of funds from modernisation or maintaining an increasing capacity towards supporting all the needs that we have seen and heard about today, which are about getting better information, better data, better enforcement, better control and better conservation measures. This Fund needs to be used to bridge and help fishing communities go through this. If you reduce catches, you need to be able to support this transition. You might want to keep some fishermen active and some level of fleet capacity. You need to use those funds to help bridge from a situation of overfishing to one of sustainable fishing. At the moment, they are being used in the wrong direction.

We need to use them as well to promote technology and innovation in the right direction. We have been improving technology and innovation towards catching more fish, faster, farther, and in situations where there are even fewer fish. We need to change the way investment in technology goes as well.

Q55 Chair: Earlier you said there will inevitably be fewer fishermen, and quite dramatically. What you have not mentioned is the impact on coastal communities. Do you believe that the new Fund should look at the impact on coastal communities or exclusively on fishermen?

Aniol Esteban: It is hard to distinguish; both are very much interlinked. It should take them into account. It should be used to support fishermen and, by that, I mean the fishing community and the community within which they live.

Q56 Chair: It is our understanding that the Commission plans to withhold certain of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund from Member States and fishers that do not comply with the Common Fisheries Policy rules. Do you believe there needs to be a clearer set of rules in the regulation, setting out specifically in which circumstances the funds might be withdrawn?

Rupert Crilly: I would agree. Simply, the current situation has been there have been rules that could have been breached. There has been a history of noncompliance with certain vessels, yet they have still been allocated public subsidies or access to fish resources. It is less about the wording of the rules and more about access to quota and subsidies based on their compliance history. That could be worded better.

Q57 Chair: Finally, do you think in a sense the Common Fisheries Policy is like the Common Agricultural Policy was-that we have encouraged people to overfish in the same way that they overfarmed, and now we are having to backtrack?

Aniol Esteban: The Common Fisheries Policy has been very inefficient at doing what it should be doing, which is ensuring the best management and value to society of a commonly owned resource. They seem to have achieved the opposite. It is a structure that, properly used and with the right measures and wording, could be used to change the situation. I have hope in the structure but, at the moment, it has been misused.

Rupert Crilly: I think it is quite a complex economic question that you have. I would prefer to put it in writing, because it could be quite long.13

Chair: That would be very helpful, if you would. We thank you, Mr Crilly and Mr Esteban, for being with us today. It has been very helpful to our inquiry. Thank you very much indeed.

[1] Note by witness: See Hadjimichael et al. (2010) Distribution of the burden of fisheries regulations in Europe: The north/south divide. Marine Policy 34: 795-802 . This is a study on the differences in regulation of fisheries in northern vs. Southern EU water.

[2] Note by witness: Froese, R., and A. Proelß, 2010: Rebuilding fish stocks no later than 2015: will Europe meet the deadline? Fish and Fisheries, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2009.00349.x

[3] Note by witness: To answer the second part of the question, on whether the Council of Ministers has the will: I think the Commission has more will than the Council of Ministers; in particular, the Ministers of countries like Spain, Portugal, France or Italy who are favouring the status quo. See also Ev 100.

[4] Ev 97, 100

[5] Note by witness: To clarify: We are strongly in support of a discard ban but believe that, in order for it to reduce pressure on stocks and to improve the value of the fish landed (by selectively catching fish when they are older), then it must be enforced in conjunction with other measures, such as regulatory improvements in selectivity along with a framework of constructive economic incentives to continuously reward the most sustainable aspects of the fleet with priority quota and funding. A discard ban combined with efforts to increase consumption of undersized fish, on the other hand, risks increasing pressure on stocks because the profit incentive to increase selectivity is diminished by higher demand and prices for fish which should not be caught (e.g. juvenile fish). There may too be long-term consequences of adapting consumer tastes for smaller fish (which have a lower nutritional value per fish compared to large fish, and are less likely to have reproduced. See also Ev 100.

[6] Ev 98, 101

[7] Ev 101

[8] Ev 98

[9] Note by witness: In Norway, the discard ban was enforced in different stocks at different times, making it difficult to elicit the precise effect of the discard ban. That is, there may be environmental factors, as well as overlapping ban periods masking the ban’s apparent effectiveness. In aggregate, it seems as though the discard ban was mostly effective from 1989, and this impacted on catch efficiency (how much was caught, in weight, for a given amount of effort, such as days spent fishing). By 1991 the fleet was profitable again, and by 1993 the catch efficiency (CPUE) had returned to pre-discard ban levels. The figure of four years should refer to catch efficiency, since the period concerning profitability was two years.

[10] Ev 99, 101

[11] Ev 99, 101

[12] Ev 101

[13] Ev 101

Prepared 23rd February 2012