Fierce negotiations began in Brussels today over European fishing quotas – who can fish what and how much – an annual spectacle which takes place under the auspices the massively failed, and hugely expensive Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Over the past quarter of a century, the CFP has laid bare any illusion that the EU is capable of effectively managing European fisheries. The CFP has become a harbinger of national interests, which has resulted in environmental, ecological and economic disaster.
In many parts of Europe, fish is now a luxury food item, despite tons of dead fish being thrown back into Europe’s waters every year under CFP rules. Fish stocks continue to plummet, especially North Sea Cod. And countries like Britain have seen their national fishing industries decimated. In fact the only sustainable element of the CFP is Brussels’ unwillingness to relinquish its power over Members’ fisheries policies.
Despite several attempts to reform the CFP, things have continued to go from bad to worse. Common lands, property and resources are never managed well by unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies. Under the EU’s proposed Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission would increase its power over fisheries, in effect rewarding itself for failing to adequately manage a program whose financial cost alone (not including the human cost) is set at $5.2 billion for 2007-2013. It is time to put this policy out of its misery once and for all and repatriate it back to the member states.