European Fisheries : How to Improve the Regional Advisory CouncilsIn the context of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform which will be adopted in 2012, the European Commission launched in April 2009 a public consultation presenting the main failures of current fisheries management and opening the debate on how to improve the CFP in order to ensure sustainable fisheries.
One of the main questions raised in the Green Paper is how to focus the decision-making framework on core long-term principles. The CFP should establish a more de-centralized system of governance where the long-term goals and principles are set in Brussels and the technical measures to reach those targets are decided at a regional level. However, finding the best governance structure is a complex issue, which also raises the question about the future role of the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs).
Regardless of how the debate on regionalization and decentralization is concluded, it is likely that RACs will continue to play a role in the reformed CFP. Therefore, WWF decided to take a closer look at how well the RACs are functioning – with reference to the CFP, the RACs’ own statutes, and the legislation and rules for comparable advisory bodies in other leading fishing nations (US & Australia). This comparison, which also draws from an internal RAC activity evaluation conducted by WWF, enabled the authors to identify more clearly the weaknesses and main successes RACs have achieved to date, and underlines discrepancies between the rules laid down in the legal framework and the state of play in practice. Based on the
assessment, the authors offer recommendations for improving the RACs rules and operating procedures in order for RACs to function optimally.