Reforming the Common Fisheries Policy

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/reel.12199
Published date01 July 2017
Date01 July 2017
AuthorMercedes Rosello
Book Reviews
Reforming the Common
Fisheries Policy,byJill
Wakefield, published by
Edward Elgar, 2016, 336 pp.,
£85.00, hardback.
Jill Wakefield is an Associate Profes-
sor with broad expertise in interna-
tional and European Union (EU)
environmental law. Her understand-
ing of EU accountability and represen-
tation structures, and actor dynamics
in EU policy building shines through
in her latest book, Reforming the
Common Fisheries Policy.
The book sets out to evaluate the
reasons for the failure of the EUs
Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to
achieve an acceptable status for fish
stocks and the marine environment,
placing an emphasis on the reforms
that have characterized the 2014
incarnation of the policy. It may be
summarized as a systemic critique
of the CFP, and a mapping exercise
of the deficiencies that have pre-
vented important sustainability
objectives from being appropriately
internalized and actualized by the
CFP. A salient aspect of the book is
its persuasive survey of the numer-
ous and frequently conflicting,
interests that have informed the
development of the CFP since its
inception. The author explains how,
despite the devolution of compe-
tences to Member States, and the
adoption of a multi-level decision-
making strategy, the EU has not
successfully reined in the long-
standing dominance of industrial
interests. The exclusion of the
small-scale fishing sector from the
somewhat byzantine participation
structures of the CFP illustrates this
imbalance. According to Wakefield,
at the heart of the problem lies a
persistent legacy of indeterminacy
as to how the social, economic and
conservation principles that com-
pete for primacy in regulatory
direction are to be prioritized. This
is argued to occur both in regard to
the internal and external dimen-
sions of the CFP. As a result, there
has been an effective subordination
of sustainability to the other two
priorities, which has crystallized
into systemic weaknesses enabling
Member State industry interests to
prevail over the public interest.
Allocating primary responsibility
for structural failures on the door-
step of the legislating institutions of
the EU, Wakefield nevertheless
extends criticism to the Court of
Justice of the European Union
(CJEU). Setting out how CJEU
decisions have played a critical role
in curtailing the ability of the Com-
mission to ensure Member State
implementation of onerous aspects
of the CFP, she analyses the inter-
pretive bias that has characterized
certain judicial interventions.
Specifically, she unwraps the effect
of decisions such as Boyle and
Others,
1
and McBride and Others,
2
which resulted in the erosion of
public interests under consider-
ations of competence and process,
and Giordano,
3
whereby the right
of exploitation was protected as
fundamental despite an absence of
private property rights over the liv-
ing marine resources in question.
Wakefield explains how regulatory
weaknesses have combined with
the decisions of the CJEU: the limi-
tations of the advisory role reserved
to independent science, the insuffi-
cient determinacy of the new Maxi-
mum Sustainable Yield (MSY)
standards, the limited nature of the
precautionary principle under EU
law, the entrenchment of the right to
fish by the CJEU and the effective
absence of judicial oversight over
Commission decisions with direct
impact on the sustainability of shared
stocks, are assessed as having created
systemic obligation and accountabil-
ity voids, undermining the sustain-
ability objectives of the CFP.
Further, the book offers insights
into the reasons why the CFP has
remained largely sectoral, despite
the adoption of important integra-
tion initiatives in law and policy.
These initiatives are reviewed,
including the ecosystems approach
derived from international law, the
introduction of sustainable devel-
opment as a structural principle in
the Lisbon Treaty, the launch of the
Integrated Maritime Policy, and the
structural alignment of the CFP
and the Marine Strategy Frame-
work Directive to engineer the
achievement of MSY and good envi-
ronmental status outcomes. How-
ever, despite noting the failures in
the development of the policy,
Wakefield identifies opportunities
to improve system design and
implementation. Wakefield identi-
fies and analyses existing EU initia-
tives outside the fisheries sector
incorporating mechanisms for
responsibility reallocation and cost
internalization by resource users,
and highlights their value to future
incarnations of the CFP, whilst also
paying heed to their limitations and
regulatory requirements. These
illustrations provide a preamble to
the linchpin of the critique, a
proposition based on economic the-
ory whereby the alignment of pri-
vate and public costs may be
achieved, and regulatory, enforce-
ment and conservation externalities
1
CJEU, Joined Cases T-218/03 to T-240/03,
Cathal Boyle and Others v. Commission,
[2006] ECR II 1699.
2
This case, commenced in 2010, had been
subject to an appeal by the Commission at
the time the book was published. In a 2016
judgment, the Grand Chamber of the Court of
Justice confirmed the annulment of the Com-
mission decisions by the General Court on
procedural grounds. See CJEU, Case C361/
14 P, Commission v. Peter McBride and
Others, [2016] OJ C305/5.
3
CJEU, Case C611/12 P, Jean-Francois
Giordano v. Commission, [2014] OJ C462/3.
ª2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
181
RECIEL 26 (2) 2017. ISSN 2050-0386 DOI: 10.1111/reel.12199
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