In the north-east Atlantic, where most British fishing takes place, the problems of devising satisfactory fishery regulations are especially complex because of the number of nations involved and the range of species sought. The European Economic Community (EEC) was first formed at the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 with six member countries: West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Since then the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Spain and Portugal have joined and various fisheries regulations have been implemented.
An operational Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is now in place within the EC. Various regulations have been introduced since 1970 and the legislation is quite complex. The policy covers five aspects of fishing: access, conservation, market management, production and marketing structures, and the organization of international relations. Details are given in Coffey, 1995. The basics of the agreement are outlined below:
(a) National fisheries jurisdictions were extended to 200 miles (1976 Hague Agreement) along the North Sea and Atlantic coasts (but not the Mediterranean, Baltic, Skagerrak or Kattegat). The Exclusive Fisheries Zone (EFZ) thus extends from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles. The baseline is generally low water mark or sometimes a straight line across bays. The EFZ came into force on 1 January 1977. This greatly increases the area over which coastal states can supervise fishing operations. For example, the UK now claims fishing rights over a considerable part of the north-east Atlantic. Non-EC ships can only fish these waters with UK consent and in accordance with UK regulations.
(b) Access to EC waters under the CFP is one of equal access for all member states to each other's fishing zones. However, within the 0-6-mile coastal zone, access is restricted to vessels registered in the coastal state. Between 6 and 12 miles, certain EC states are allowed to fish in particular areas for particular species based on historic rights of usage. This arrangement holds until the year 2002 when the present system comes up for renewal.
(c) The CFP includes various standards for states fishing in community waters, aimed at conserving stocks. These include minimum mesh sizes, minimum landing sizes, permitted levels of by-catch of edible species with industrial species, and areas where fishing is prohibited or limited at certain times of the year to protect spawning and nursery areas.
(d) The EC has also introduced a quota system of total allowable catches (TAC) for major commercial species stocks in particular areas. These quotas are specified at the beginning of each year by the Council of Fisheries Ministers. The scientific information on which the TACs are based is provided by various organizations, principally the Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). The areas used are ICES blocks (Figure 9.37).
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