Regulatory control of adaptive fisheries: Reflections on the implementation of the landing obligation in the EU common fisheries policy
The most recently revised CFP Regulation, adopted in 2013, includes a number of significant changes with the aim to make fisheries more in tune with concept of the ecosystem approach and to avoid unsustainable exploitation of marine biological resources, including fish, as a natural resource. As part of that the CFP Regulation introduced the landing obligation, an obligation to land all catches as opposed to previous praxis where fisheries have been relying on a system of discarding fish and other marine biological resources in order to optimize their catch. One aim with the landing obligation is to push for new adaptive fishing methods and in a way to implement an ecosystem approach since the fishing strategies are meant to be adjusted to ecosystem factors. To be effective, the system for controlling implementation must be adjusted to take different aspects of the ecosystem approach into account. The paper presents some reflections on the required balance between adaptive approaches connected to the ecosystem approach and the strictness established by principles of rule of law in relation to the so called EU CFP landing obligation. It is concluded that the best way to create a control system adjusted to these factors seems to be by giving more influence to the industry itself. Involving those concerned at all levels, and thus applying all aspects of the regulatory governance under an ecosystem approach, would create an effective adaptive system where the rule of law is also safe-guarded.