The economic implications of changing regulations for deep sea fishing under the European Common Fisheries Policy: UK case study
Economic impact assessment methodology was applied to UK fisheries data to better understand the implications of European Commission proposal for regulations to fishing for deep-sea stocks in the North-East Atlantic (EC COM 371 Final 2012) under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The aim was to inform the on-going debate to develop the EC proposal, and to assist the UK fishing industry and Government in evaluating the most effective options to manage deep sea fish stocks. Results indicate that enforcing the EC proposal as originally drafted results in a number of implications for the UK fleet. Because of the proposed changes to the list of species defined as being deep sea species, and a new definition of what constitutes a vessel targeting deep sea species, a total of 695 active UK fishing vessels would need a permit to fish for deep sea species. However, due to existing and capped capacity limits many vessels would potentially not be able to obtain such a permit. The economic impact of these changes from the status quo reveals that in the short term, landings would decrease by 6540 tonnes, reducing gross value added by £3.3 million. Alternative options were also assessed that provide mitigation measures to offset the impacts of the proposed regulations whilst at the same time providing more effective protection of deep sea Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). The options include setting a 400 m depth rule that identifies a depth beyond which vessels would potentially be classified as fishing for deep sea species and designating ‘core areas’ for deep sea fishing at depths > 400 m to minimise the risk of further impacts of bottom fishing gear on deep sea habitats. Applying a 400 m depth limit and ‘core fishing’ area approach deeper than 400 m, the impact of the EC proposal would essentially be reduced to zero, that is, on average no vessels (using the status quo capacity baseline) would be impacted by the proposal.