10 Principles to build back a better blue

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The Covid-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on people’s health, jobs and livelihoods. Thus, and because the political decisions and investments made now and in the next few years to revive the economy will be decisive, 11 european NGOs – among which Sciaena – prepared a joint position entitled “Setting the right safety net: a framework for fisheries support policies in response to covid-19” as a strategy to assess whether aids to the fishing sector in response to the pandemic will help us build towards a healthier fishing sector, population and marine environment. This position, which was sent by Sciaena to the Portuguese Minister of the Sea Ricardo Serrão Santos, includes a list of 10 principles, created by Griffin Carpenter from New Economics Foundation, which should be applied in the upcoming decisions on recovery measures to ensure they will aid the path towards long-term benefits to people, nature and the economy.

The fact that the pandemic may have brought some temporary relief to fish stocks, motivated by ruptures in supply chains, should not be celebrated since this was not a result of a strategic plan of transition for the sector’s professionals. The reality is that no environmental relief will be long lasting when the public health crisis passes. Environmental recovery is fundamental, but should be attained in a socially-just manner.

We welcome the EU’s plans to make substantial funds available to address this emergency situation and develop public stimulus packages to relaunch and transform the economy, create millions of jobs and support people – especially the most vulnerable – through this difficult time. However, we consider these packages must serve to help develop a more resilient exploitation model, not only environmentally, but economically and socially.

The list of 10 principles which should be applied in the upcoming recovery measures are the following:

1) Concurrent crisis response: Policies to address one crisis should have a positive impact on other existing and anticipated crises.

2) Efficiency: Obtain the best results with limited resources.

3) Rationality: Effective policy requires a linkage between the crisis being addressed and the policy proposal.

4) Speed: A crisis situation requires a rapid response.

5) Institutional integrity: Support measures should respect existing institutions.

6) Anti-abuse: Ensure that policies are directed towards their intended recipients.

7) Consultation: Engage industry and civil society in policy generation.

8) Clarity and transparency: To protect against abuse, policy intent should be stated and outcomes monitored.

9) Conditionality: There should be clear eligibility criteria and transparent procedures for application.

10) Integration: Fisheries support policies do not exist in a vacuum and should strengthen policies in other areas.

Although the response measures to Covid-19 might offer support for a year, sustainable marine ecosystems will support the sector for years and years. With the climate and biodiversity crisis as the setting, any policy proposal must answer the fundamental question: how does this policy allow us to build back better?

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