The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) has published a study contracted by the European Commission on regionalisation, the findings of which are that regionalisation has allowed for fisheries management that is better adapted to the local situation and facilitates a focus on longer-term goals – a greater effort is needed to apply regionalisation in practice.
Regionalisation is a concept from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation that enables a bottom-up approach to fisheries governance by allowing lower-level authorities and stakeholders to step into the fisheries management process and design tailor-made management on a regional scale.
The study, which reviews how regionalisation has worked until now, feeds into the ongoing reflections on regionalisation, in particular in the context of the report on the functioning on the CFP to be delivered by the Commission by the end of 2022.
The findings of the study provide a comprehensive overview of the regionalisation process and examine its main developments over time, explicitly mapping the stakeholders involved, the regional groups and management measures adopted.
The study also assessed to what extent the different stakeholders were involved in the preparation of management measures, the advantages and disadvantages of participating, how advice from Advisory Councils is taken on board by the Member States Regional Groups and the Commission, and how different interests are balanced in the advice provided by the Advisory Councils.
The study concludes that regionalisation is both necessary and useful. Without regionalisation, it would be difficult to manage fisheries with the same level of detail, because a one-size-fits-all approach would ignore local specificities that apply in a particular sea basin. The study also notes that this, in turn, facilitates a focus on longer term goals in relation to environmental, economic and social sustainability.
While regionalisation is seen as an improvement, stakeholders agree that more work is needed to apply the concept in practice. It is still work in progress, and the study therefore provides recommendations for the various stakeholders. The Commission states that it intends to continue to further develop the process.