The Global Context

In this crucial time of change, the external dimension of the EU’s common fisheries policy takes special importance. The EU is a major player, with a strong presence in all the world’s oceans. Our fleets and investments, our bilateral agreements with third countries and our active participation in virtually all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations mean that we, too, are responsible for the sustainable management of international fish stocks.

Our international goals are set in the Communication on the external dimension of the reformed CFP, which is part and parcel of the reform: exporting our conservation principles to the rest of the world, enhancing the performance of Regional Management Organisations and laying a sound basis on which to build fair and sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements.

Meanwhile, we introduced new clauses for stock sustainability and economic profitability in all the Fisheries Partnership Agreements negotiated since 2011. Moreover, a new human rights clause allows for the suspension of the agreement in case of serious violation of these rights. In 2011, for the first time, we brought together Ministers from the EU Member States, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and Greenland and discussed together the future of the Agreements and the main aspects of the reform.

The past two and a half years saw some difficult negotiations to renew a number of protocols: Morocco, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Gabon. At the moment we have also initialled an Agreement with Kiribati which, for the first time, requests substantially higher fees from ship-owners, in line with the reform. A new three-year Protocol has been signed in 2012 to implement the EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership Agreement and will enter into force in 2013. Our negotiations always aim to ensure sustainability, ethical fisheries, legal fairness and a science-based approach.

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) are key to sustainable management and the EU position in them consistently promotes sustainability and compliance. Again for the first time, in May 2012 a conference brought together representatives from fifteen RFMOs, the Commission and the European Parliament.

An important stepping stone of our international relations was the Joint Statement I signed with the US government and with Japan, on behalf of the European Union, on efforts to combat IUU fishing. The combined impact of the USA, Japan and Europe is truly global, as we consume at least 30 % of the world’s fish supply. Now that the three powers are united in this combat, it is my aim to build on this initiative and eventually arrive at a global catch certification system that will enable us to track the origin of all traded fish.

In the Mediterranean region, substantial efforts went to reinforcing the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean – with the overall aim to create a level-playing field between the European fishermen and those fishing from the North African region.

After my visit there in 2010, we launched a ‘Fisheries Dialogue’ with Turkey with special focus on control issues. The European Fisheries Control Agency in Vigo agreed to increase control capabilities in the Turkish area. Even though the enlargement negotiations have not yet opened the chapter on fisheries, we have already been working with this country to achieve the standards required for accession.

We have developed good relations with Norway over the past 2 years. A new agreement for the management of shared fish stocks in the North Sea sets the total allowable catches and quotas for shared stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat. An agreement was also reached on the exchange of fishing possibilities in each other’s waters.

Despite intense efforts, we have not yet reached an agreement with Iceland on a fair sharing of mackerel stocks. But we are now close to adopting an innovative trade instrument against countries which fish unsustainably. This regulation authorizes the Commission to adopt, on top of existing IUU rules and in full respect of international law, other trade measures against countries that fish on shared stocks unsustainably.

Under the ‘Trade and Sustainable Development’ chapter of the Free Trade Agreements, we have been negotiating provisions to improve our trade partners’ social and environmental behaviours; we also insist that they adhere to all international conventions and agreements in the area of fishery governance. Ensuring a genuinely level playing field means ensuring that imported products meet the same requirements that apply within the EU, to create fair competition.

Lastly, we have been moving forward with Russia. A lot remains to be done, but after my visit to Moscow the first Fisheries Dialogue was established as a first positive step..

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Last update: 11/06/2014 |  Top