John Hayward Posted: 13 July 2011
'If no reform takes place, only 8 stocks out of 136 will be at sustainable levels in 2022. In other words, if we don't make structural changes to the way we do business now, we will loose one fish stock after the other, with a possible chain reaction for the ecosystem that is hard to predict.'
At last some good news on the environment, from European fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki, who has unveiled long-awaited proposals to reform the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. She says the three key concepts underpinning the new regulations are sustainability, efficiency and coherence. On the first of these, she has announced:
'Environmental sustainability means bringing all stocks to sustainable levels by 2015. We have committed to this at the Johannesburg UN World Summit in 2002, and the same principle is contained in the United Nations Law of the Sea and in our recent Biodiversity Strategy.
'Maximum Sustainable Yield – MSY - means that we can keep fishing. But we have to manage each fish stock in such a way that we can get maximum fish production while still keeping the stock sustainable. With the reform, MSY becomes a legal obligation in all our acts.
'A second thing we need to do for sustainability is stop waste: discards, which can amount to 60% of catches in some fisheries, undermine all our data collection efforts and are morally and environmentally unacceptable. So I propose to change the system so that all catches are landed and counted against quotas.
'A third element of the sustainability focus is the ecosystem approach: the long-term plans for stock management that we have already started need to become the common denominator of all our fisheries. As new ecosystem information becomes available, it has to be fed into the plans.'
This 'behavioural revolution' is welcome, if very long overdue. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that 'We are not called to conceive, design, build and maintain a better version of the old world but rather to participate in the new one that has been inaugurated on the cross.'
As we noted in Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living, 'Our personal lives, the cultures in which we live, the systems that structure our society: all require renewal ... we are all participants in many other big systems: economic, social and political.' Our response to the challenge of environmental sustainability is just part of our wider response to God's renewing activity on the cross.