9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS06 Maritime Sociology

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Maritime Sociology II Building AA, AA.229

The Quota Hopping Case: Common Fisheries Policy between Market and Law

The "Relative Stability" shapes the Common Fisheries Policy. This principle prevents the effect of uncertainty in the stocks evolution and guaranties the member states a more or less sustainable division of quotas between member-states.
The objective is to establish the equilibrium between the promotion of efficiency, in the long run, and socio-economic stability in the coastal areas, in the short term.
This fixed formula of quotas distribution between member-states reflects the fact that European fishermen representation is still linked to national and local communities.
But this territorial logic is in perfect contradiction with the development conditions of a free market (the Treaty of Rome). Free movement of capital and the "Free Establishment" principle rest under a different logic.
By purchasing vessels and quotas in different countries, some fisheries enterprises emerged and act like perfect multinational firms capturing fishing stocks that were supposed to belong to national fishing communities. "Quota-hopping", usually understood as the flagging of fishing vessels in order to fish against the catch quotas of another country, is a by-product of European Union´s Common Fisheries Policy.
This situation represents an important critic of the stakeholders to the CFP rules. They attacked the way the quota system is being circumvented by the so-called "flag" ships.
In the literature, the phenomenon has been discussed in political terms but the economic and sociological implications have received less attention. Nevertheless, even if the economic impact may be rather small, it raises the important issues of fishing rights in the European Union and the sociological consequences of this process in the coastal areas highly dependent on fishing.
The non-territorial logic of EU governance challenges the social order inherited from the European welfare states. Economic and social actors in the EU are no longer subject to one political authority that is able to guard the values of justice and equity.
The dynamics towards trans-nationalisation encourages a diffusion of power and blurs the exercise of political democratic elected administration.
In general, the purpose of our paper is to investigate this dichotomy between a national oriented policy and the process of de-territorialisation arising from single market construction.