The European Union and Ministers from the United States of America, Japan, Philippines, Colombia and Republic of Indonesia signed today in Thessaloniki a Joint Statement on efforts to promote sustainable fishing capacity management on the global scale.
Read the Joint Statement here .
Watch recorded cutaways from the Signing Ceremony here.
Commissioner Damanaki, Sir Richard Branson, Minister Tsaftaris and Pierre-Yves Cousteau exchanged views today on fishing overcapacity in the framework of the International Capacity Conference taking place in Thessaloniki from March 13 to March 14. Ministers, stakeholders and high-level participants are discussing fishing overcapacity during these two days.
The European Commission has today welcomed the five-year arrangement for mackerel in the North-East Atlantic, which was reached in London on 12 March between the EU, Faroe Islands and Norway.
The arrangement, which makes room for another Coastal State to join at a later stage, establishes a number of important principles, including a commitment to sustainable fisheries, a sharing between the Parties, and a commitment to establish a new long-term management plan in 2014 following ICES advice.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “This is a significant day for international fisheries. This landmark agreement testifies to the EU's commitment to sustainable fishing at home and abroad. The talks were long and intensive but given the potential risk to the stock, the stakes could not have been much higher. This agreement ensures the long term sustainability of this valuable stock. The door is still open for Iceland to join the other Parties in the near future."
The arrangement, which will run until 2018, was reached after a series of intensive high-level meetings held between the European Union and the other interested Parties. Throughout the discussions the EU has prioritised both a return to the sustainability of the mackerel stock and a fair sharing arrangement for all Coastal States. The arrangement comes after several years without common Coastal State management of this important fish stock.
The Parties have specifically set aside a reserve for the benefit of any new adherents to the agreement.
A new arrangement on the management of shared fish stocks in the North Sea was concluded between the European Union and Norway for 2014. Total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the shared stocks in the North Sea were established and an agreement was also reached on the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities in each other's waters.
This arrangement involves an increase of 5% in the TAC for North Sea cod and 15% for North Sea plaice compared to 2013. However, the TACs for North Sea haddock, saithe and whiting have been reduced by 15% with the herring TAC in the same area being reduced by 2%.
Following the arrangement on mackerel among the three Coastal States (EU, Faroe Islands and Norway), which was also signed in London on 12 March, the EU quota for mackerel in 2014 amounts to 611,205 tonnes.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “I very much welcome this agreement, which will allow fishermen from both the European Union and Norway to have valuable access to fish stocks. This agreement very much strengthens the mutual relationship in fisheries between the European Union and Norway.”
Read Commissioner Damanaki's speech at the high-level Conference on Coastal and Maritime tourism organised on Monday March 10th in Athens by the Greek Presidency, the Greek Ministry of Tourism, and the European Commission.
The event is bringing together industry, stakeholders, and policy makers to discuss how the European Commission's Strategy for Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime tourism, adopted on the 20 February 2014, can have a transformative effect on local jobs and economies in Europe's coastal regions.
Greek Prime Minister, Mr Antonios Samaras, Greek Minister for Tourism, Ms Olga Kefalogianni, Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, and Mr. Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner responsible for Industry, Entrepreneurship and Tourism are speaking alongside Commissioner Damanaki during this event. This Conference will be followed by an informal Ministerial meeting chaired by Ms Kefalogianni (see more pictures) and panel sessions on sustainability and dialogue in the sector, and growth and innovation for the blue economy.
The 11th March event will bring together 300 companies for business to business sessions on food processing and aquaculture, blue biotechnology, energy, ICT and tourism, as well as a Conference on the challenges and opportunities presented by online marketing.
Commissioner Damanaki participated with President Barroso in the 6th European Summit of Regions and Cities in Athens organised by the Committee of the Regions, together with the Region of Attica on 7 and 8 March.
The objective of the Summit was to take stock of the efforts made at European, national, regional and local level to deliver job-rich recovery. The Summit also brought a high-level debate with European political leaders about the 2014 European elections and the future of the EU.
The European Commission welcomes the positive outcome of the informal trilogue on the draft for a Framework Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning. If confirmed by the Council and the European Parliament, the Directive will help Member States cooperate more closely over cross-border sea areas, enabling them to take full account of land-sea interactions when developing their Maritime Spatial Planning.
Commissioner Damanaki, and Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said:
"Maritime Spatial Planning can make an important contribution to harnessing multiple uses of space at sea and ensuring their environmental sustainability. We now look forward to the finalisation of the adoption process by the European Parliament and the Council so that we can start working with Member States to better manage our seas and make them safer, more sustainable, and a conductor for growth whilst reducing the pressures on the ecosystem."
Competition for maritime space – for renewable energy equipment, aquaculture and other growth areas – has highlighted the need for more efficient management of such areas, to avoid potential conflict and create a stable environment attractive to investors. At the same time, this proposal will make it easier for Member States to coordinate such activities and better manage environmental pressures from sea-based activities.
Maritime Spatial Planning is a cornerstone of the Commission's Blue Growth strategy and of Integrated Maritime Policy. This agreement should boost this sustainable maritime growth, while also contributing to a more efficient implementation of EU environmental legislation in marine and coastal waters. It should also help establish coherent networks of Marine Protected Areas, for which cooperation on planning across borders is essential, and ensure the participation of all stakeholders in planning processes.
The European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have adopted today a Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council "For an open and secure global maritime domain: elements for a European Union maritime security strategy".
This joint communication presents a vision of the Union's maritime security interests and threats, and proposes the areas in which cooperation between various maritime players can be enhanced beyond what is already good practice today. It encompasses all maritime functions, from coastguards to navies, port authorities and customs duty officers and would affect the EU waters as well as each ship sailing under EU Member States' – flag and have a global reach. This document will now serve as a basis for the work with Member States towards a full-fledged EU maritime security strategy.
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission said:
"The security and well-being of Europeans greatly depend on open and safe seas. It is therefore necessary for the EU to deal with maritime threats and challenges. We need a joined-up approach, as demonstrated in the Horn of Africa where we have achieved significant results in fighting piracy. This Communication paves the way for a more systematic use of all the tools we have at our disposal and will allow us to speak with one voice to our international partners."
A final round in a long series of Coastal State consultations on mackerel sharing in the North-East Atlantic was held in Edinburgh from 3 to 5 March 2014. As Chair, the EU tabled a compromise proposal that was accepted by Iceland and the Faroe Islands but was rejected by Norway. The Commission considers that conditions were ideal for a deal to be reached and positions were very close. It is very disappointed that a golden opportunity has been lost.
The EU will now work with Norway in the bilateral negotiations that start today to set fishing opportunities at a level that ensures the sustainable exploitation of this valuable stock, respecting the scientific advice.
In light of the degree of agreement reached during the coastal state negotiations, the EU calls on Iceland and the Faroe Islands to also show responsibility in the level of fishing opportunities they will now set unilaterally, to secure the future sustainability of the stock.
Marine NGOs paid a visit to Berlaymont yesterday to discuss with Commissioner Damanaki pending issues that need to be swiftly implemented in the course of this year. Representatives from WWF, Greenpeace, Oceana, PEW, Ocean2012 and Birdlife were present. The NGOs spoke of the importance of implementing what was agreed under the new Common Fisheries Policy, including reaching MSY and abiding to landing obligations. The international dimension was also a key point in the exchange of views that took place, with a focus on the need to eradicate illegal fishing (IUU).