At the Fisheries Council, EU ministers reached a political agreement on 2012 fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks for EU vessels in Union and certain non-Union waters and on fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks in the Black Sea.
The Council also had an exchange of views on the European maritime and fisheries fund and the proposal on certain measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing. Commissioner Damanaki also presented the proposal on certain measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing.
The sixth round of talks ended yesterday and they will be resumed in 2012. These are ongoing negotiations, which will be further pursued in order to reach agreement on a continuation of the fisheries arrangements with Mauritania in time before the expiration date of the current protocol on 31 July 2012.
Spokesperson Commissioner Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
"Further to the European Parliament vote yesterday, the provisional application of the Protocol comes to an end and the EU vessels will stop fishing. This will be done in full accordance with international law and by applying the speediest procedures at our disposal. I remain committed to continue dialogue with Morocco on fisheries issues and have taken good note of the European Parliament's request to the Commission to move negotiations on a new Protocol forward"
"The Commission will fully respect today's vote of the European Parliament. Tomorrow I am going to propose to the Council that it repeals the provisional application of the Protocol.
We don't know if a new Fisheries Protocol with Morocco is possible. We are going to explore all the possible ways forward. In any case- as I have already stated on several occasions- if a new fisheries Protocol with Morocco were to be proposed and agreed, it would have to give convincing answers to the key issues of environmental sustainability, economic profitability and international legality.
The vote of the European Parliament sends a strong message to the Moroccan Government that it would need to engage for a better agreement on all these issues."
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Regulation which would authorise the Commission to impose a range of measures against third countries that allow unsustainable fishing.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "This is a groundbreaking measure. If backed by Member States and the European Parliament, we will have for the first time an effective legal instrument to help us secure the conservation of fish stocks that the EU shares with other countries. This is of prime importance to our fishing communities and the long-term conservation of stocks - in the interest of consumers and the society at large."
Once the proposal is approved by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU will have a new powerful tool to discourage unsustainable fishing practices swiftly and to promote international cooperation on shared fish resources.
The European Commission today welcomed the report by the European Court of Auditors evaluating whether EU measures have contributed to adapting the capacity of EU fishing fleets to available fishing opportunities. The Court concluded that current measures have failed. Overcapacity of the fishing fleet continues to be one of the main reasons for the failure of the Common Fisheries Policy in ensuring sustainable fisheries. A new approach may be needed or existing measures must be better enforced. The Commission shares most of the observations and the recommendations of the Court.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “The report of the Court of Auditors reinforces my conviction that business as usual is not an option. We need new ideas. In our proposals for a new Common Fisheries Policy we want to break with the past. We are addressing overcapacity through a system of transferable fishing concessions at national level and with safeguards to avoid concentration of ownership. In the new financial instrument, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, we propose to no longer finance scrapping of vessels, but instead spend the money on projects which will make a real difference."
Coastal States consultations on mackerel between the European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway in Clonakilty, Ireland ended inconclusively today. The parties agreed to resume the consultations in early 2012.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said: "There was no agreement today. We do not want to admit that there is a deadlock that we cannot overcome. Not reaching agreement would be disastrous for the mackerel stock. Scientists are telling us that the situation is worsening. We want to give these mackerel talks a last chance, probably in January".
The European Commission welcomes the adoption of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on sustainable fisheries. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said: "We welcome this UN Resolution on sustainable fisheries. I am particularly pleased about the increased protection of the Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, which was strongly pushed by the EU. Now it is important that all parties live up to the commitments made".
The outcome for the EU is very satisfactory as all EU proposals have been included in the Resolution. In addition, the EU worked closely with other Parties successfully contributing to the incorporation of their proposals to the final resolution. This year focused on the review on the measures for the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems from the impacts of bottom fishing and the long term sustainability of the deep sea fish stocks.
Commissioner Damanaki met the representatives of national federations of fishing enterprises, grouped under the European organisation Europêche.
The discussion focussed on the the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the role and concerns of Europêche in addressing topical issues in the fisheries policy.
A new agreement for the management of shared fish stocks in the North Sea has been concluded between the European Union and Norway after a week of negotiations. The total allowable catches and quotas for the shared stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat were set. The agreement on the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities in each others waters was also reached.
The level of that exchange will be significantly higher for 2012, compared to 2011. The EU and Norway also agreed to introduce a discard ban and harmonised technical measures for the Skagerrak, with details to be finalised in 2012.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
The European Commission has proposed a new fund for the EU's maritime and fisheries policies for the period 2014-2020.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: " The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will increase economic growth and create jobs in the sector. No more money will be spent to build big vessels. Small scale fisheries and aquaculture will benefit of this budgetary greening of the Common Fisheries Policy ."