The 6th round of negotiations between EU and Mauritania concerning the renewal of the protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement took place in Nouakchott from 26 to 28 June. Discussions covered technical and financial aspects, as well as the level of fishing opportunities. Next steps include further contacts with the Mauritanian side and stakeholders.
The European Fisheries Control Agency, on behalf of the European Union, is organising a seminar on 28-29 June with other Contracting Parties to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to strengthen the monitoring and control of bluefin tuna fisheries .
Most Mediterranean members have confirmed their attendance at this seminar which aims at increasing coordination and cooperation on the control of the bluefin tuna fishery. Recent developments in this area will be presented and participants will share their experiences of pilot projects such as sampling plans, video records as a tool to control transfers, trap activities, other gear and traceability. Furthermore, an assessment of the joint control activities undertaken during the most recent fishing campaigns will be presented.
The Cambridge Judge Business School organised the Symposium on 'Securing Food and Water', to bring together leading business people, academics, policymakers and representatives of NGOs and international organisations to discuss the challenges presented by the uneven distribution of global resources, the increasing demand for food, and shortages of adequate, safe drinking water.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki addressed a message to the participants:
Good afternoon, dear participants,
and thank you for devoting your attention to the paramount issue of food supply today. Regrettably, I am unable to join you in person; but I am very keen on pointing to the issues we are facing in the fisheries sector.
We are eating more and more fish: three percent more every year, according to FAO. Also our planet's population is projected to reach 9 billion. For these people to have as good a diet as ourselves, we will need to maintain or even increase the availability of fish.
Far from me suggesting that we should eat less of it! Quite the contrary in fact: the issue is that the fishing industry is underperforming. We know that stocks would produce more if fished sustainably. This effort towards sustainability should be the focus of all our efforts.
The Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP), the French advertising ethic panel, declared today that advertisements by the French company Intermarché are misleading and ruled that they must be discontinued. The ARPP warned against the risk of confusing consumers, as Intermarché's own label “Responsible Fishing” is too similar to the Marine Stewardship Council label.
Commissioner Damanaki commented: "I share the views of European consumers' associations, which attach great importance to sustainability labels: the Intermarché case is the evidence that precise rules may be needed in this domain. Providing better information to the consumers through improved labelling is one of the main aims of the Commission proposal on the Common Organisation of the Markets in fishery and aquaculture products, which is part of the wider reform of the Common Fisheries Policy".
A reform to defend sustainability, so that environment, social inclusion and economic profitability can go hand in hand
The Ancona International Fishing Fair takes place from 21 to 24 June. Organised for the first time in 1933 and now at its 72nd edition, this prestigious event offers the opportunity for several meetings on key topics, including the policies regulating the sector.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki, although unable to attend personally the event, addressed a message to the participants of the opening ceremony of the Fair:
"We all agree that it is urgent to reform our fisheries system. On 12 June, the Council took a real step forward reaching a compromise on our proposal for a radical reform at Common fisheries Policy. This compromise is in the right direction. To end over-fishing in the European Union, to endorse the need of a discard ban and to accept a definitive target to achieve sustainable fishing levels.
It is a fact that the Commission proposal is more ambitious. This remains the base of our negotiation after the expected decision of the European Parliament.
The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), an independent non-governmental organization providing guidance to seafood suppliers and producers, has released its annual sustainability overview of fisheries used for fishmeal and fish oil.
Commissioner Damanaki commented: "It is paramount for members of the supply chain to have tools for monitoring the situation and engaging actively in improvements to source fisheries." She added: "We all have the responsibility to ensure fish stocks long-term sustainability. Within this objective it is necessary to keep fisheries impacts within sustainable bounds, by including all knowledge we have about the interactions between fisheries and marine ecosystems".
Thanks to the stringent measures that were applied over the last three years to allow recovery, two more stocks have reached maximum sustainable yield levels in the Baltic.
Following recent scientific advice, the Commission will therefore be in a position to propose an increase of quota for the "central basin herring" and sprat stocks in 2013. This will bring more profit to fishermen and the processing industry of EU countries fishing in the Baltic.
This good news brings to 5 (out of 10) the number of stocks for which quotas are set that are fished under the MSY framework in the Baltic Sea (the others being Western herring, Gulf of Bothnia herring and Eastern cod).
EU Ministers reach general compromise on the main proposals for reforming the Common Fisheries Policy
The EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council met in Luxembourg, to address the main proposals for reforming the Common Fisheries Policy.
The Council reached a general compromise on the reform of the basic provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy and of the rules regarding the organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki, who represented the Commission at the Council meeting, stated: "The Council has moved a real step forward by endorsing Maximum Sustainable Yield (from 2015 and 2020 at the latest) and has subscribed to a real discard ban with clear end dates. These are great achievement of the Danish Presidency. It is a fact that the Commission proposal is more ambitious. It is now up to the European Parliament to give its view on the Commission proposal."
Non-governmental organisations, such as Fish Fight and Greenpeace, put in place initiatives to support an overhaul of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in several EU countries as the EU fisheries Ministers' Council meeting takes place.
EU media are also engaging for the ambitious reform proposed by the Commission. On Sunday, the Sunday Times presented its own "Agenda for saving the seas", which reiterates many of the objectives spelled out in the Commission proposal. Commissioner Damanaki said: " Putting an end to the disgraceful practice of discards and allowing fish stocks to rebuild at a level that would allow for safeguarding ecosystems while offering the maximum income for our fishermen is common sense: I am not surprised that people support our proposal. I very much hope that EU Ministers and the European Parliament will listen to the many calls for bold reforms".
In a consultation document adopted today , the European Commission sets out its intentions for fixing fishing opportunities for 2013. Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States, and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The document shows that the Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. There are now 20 fish stocks in our seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 5 stocks in 2009. Reducing TACs in the past years even made it possible to increase some TACs for 2012. This could result in at least €135 million extra income for the fishing industry.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki stated: "We are now seeing some improvements towards ending overfishing, but we need to go the extra mile and adopt the CFP reform if we want to guarantee these improvements in the long term."
Following scientific advice when setting TACs helps fish stocks rebuild. As a result, fishermen are rewarded with higher catches and higher income, and the environmental impact of fishing is less. Figures also show that a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is necessary in order to apply on a wider scale the methods that have proved to work in the long-term and incorporate them into EU policy-making. Overfishing cannot be phased out through year after year setting of TACs only. Long-term management, a fully science based approach and eliminating catastrophic practices such as discarding are needed, as spelled out in the Commission proposal on CFP reform.
The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and the Republic of Kiribati initialled a new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement in Nadi, Fiji on Sunday 3 June. This new Protocol will cover a period of 3 years. The Commission welcomes this renegotiation of the new Protocol that confirms the commitment of the European Union to work with its partners on strengthening sustainable fisheries wherever its fleets operate. The new protocol provides fishing opportunities for tuna vessels. Out of the EU annual financial contribution € 1.325.000, € 350.000 has entirely been earmarked for sectoral policy support to help the Republic of Kiribati to promote responsible and sustainable fishing in their waters. It should be noted that it this agreement the shipowner's fee was substantially increased.
The fishing opportunities available under the new protocol include a reference tonnage of 15,000 tons, which corresponds to fishing authorisation for 4 purse seiners and 6 long liners. The fishing opportunities have been calculated on the basis of the scientific recommendations.
Media reports about a number of vessels allegedly fishing illegally for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. The European Commission has swiftly triggered the relevant procedures, providing national authorities with the information received from WWF and requesting them to collect information on the identification, flag and activities of the vessels, as well as their owners.
The Commission has also recommended, where possible, to carry out inspections of the vessels and collecting all necessary information on-board (catch data, landings, transhipments, VMS positions, fishing gears, etc). In parallel, the European Fisheries Control Agency alerted the Authorities in Las Palmas but the Chinese vessels did not stop there in the end. The Chinese vessels have now left EU waters.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented "I do thank national authorities and NGOs that cooperate with the Commission in order to fight illegal fishing activities, for the valuable input. We systematically check all the information available and in cooperation with the enforcement authorities and the European Fisheries Control Agency will immediately react and take action against IUU activities: we are on alert".
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Commissioner Maria Damanaki took part in the Meeting of European Socialist Leaders, organised by the Party of European Socialists ahead of the European Council meeting.
Black Sea Economic Cooperation: Heads of State and Government address the goals for the next 10 years in Istanbul
Commissioner Maria Damanaki represented the European Commission at the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Heads of State or Government of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), in Istanbul.
BSEC Heads of State and Government addressed the goals of the BSEC for the next 10 years and adopted a “BSEC 20th Anniversary Summit Declaration”. Turkey and Serbia co-chaired the Summit as the two Chairmen of the BSEC in 2012.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki with the President of the Turkish Republic, Mr Abdullah Gül.
To make it through the crisis, Europe needs the contribution of all sectors of its economy. In this context, the marine and maritime sectors – the 'blue economy' – have an important role to play in the overall road to Europe's economic recovery. They represent roughly 5.6 million jobs and account for a gross value added of €495 billion and range from established ones such as coastal tourism (€121 billion GVA), to developing sectors such as cruise tourism (annual GVA of €14.1 billion) and to prospective sectors such as blue biotechnology.
Blue Growth – the sustainable growth from the oceans, seas and coasts – will be the main contribution of an Integrated Maritime Policy to the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy.
We need address framework conditions underpinning growth, such as maritime research and development, smart infrastructure, clusters, access to finance and necessary education, skills and training. We also have to address bottlenecks hindering economic development.
Commissioner Damanaki congratulates participants in the BluemassMed EU project for maritime surveillance
Commissioner Maria Damanaki addressed a message to congratulate the authorities participating in the BluemassMed project at the dedicated European Demonstration Conference.
In recent years a surge of risks and threats (pollution, illegal fishing, unauthorised immigration, drug trafficking, menaces to the security of shipping) has increased the responsibilities of States at sea. The action of State forces on or near the sea had to be made more effective. This led to our imagining new ways of cooperating, based on the systematic and organised sharing of information. To do this the «BluemassMed network» was designed to make the partners’ present maritime information processing systems interoperable.
BluemassMed is a project co-funded by the European Commission in the framework of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy. It brings together 37 agencies responsible for maritime surveillance in the 6 Member States bordering the Mediterranean and its Atlantic approaches (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Malta).
After a two-year fruitful exploration leading to an experimental demonstration, the conference held in Brussels on 7 June presented the results and broached the issues opened up by this project.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Twenty years after the historical Conference of United Nations on Environment and Development, which paved the way towards sustainable development policies, the EU takes part in the third UN Conference on Sustainable Development that will take place on 20-22 June 2012 in Rio (Rio+20) to bring ambitious ideas to the table of discussions for our common future.
Marine ecosystems are central to human well-being and the sustainable management of oceans and seas, including sustainable fisheries, are essential to achieve the goals of a "blue" economy in terms of sustainable economic growth, poverty eradication and job creation with decent working conditions.
The maritime economy in Europe accounts for a production value of around 500 billion euro. This value could be even higher, if marine resources were exploited sustainably. If protected and well managed, the seas can unlock smart growth and they can create high-value jobs and contribute to both the European and the global economic recovery.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited Malta, to discuss maritime policy issues and the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy with the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Ministers Pullicino, Gatt, De Marco, Members of Parliament and local stakeholders.
Ms Damanaki met Prime Minister Gonzi and Ministers Gatt (Infrastructure, Transport and Communications), De Marco (Tourism, Culture and the Environment) and Pullicino (Resources and Rural Affairs). The Commissioner discussed the views of the Maltese Parliament on the EU Integrated Maritime Policy and on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy with the members of Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, before meeting fishermen's associations, non-governmental organisations and representatives of the aquaculture sector.
" EU Maritime and Fisheries policies – towards sustainability and growth ", speech at the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the Maltese House of Representatives
Commissioner Damanaki meets with Sophocles Aletraris, Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with the Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Sophocles Aletraris, to discuss Maritime Affairs and the Common Fisheries Policy, including the reform.
Greenland and the EU share mutual concerns, both of a global nature, such as climate change, ageing society and the financial crisis, and specifically related to the Arctic and the opportunities and challenges that the region poses. Against this background, Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited Greenland between 7 and 9 June, 2012.
During her visit, Commissioner Damanaki discussed with the Premier Minister Mr Kuupik Kleist and the Minister for Fisheries and Hunting Ane Hansen EU-Greenland cooperation and agreements regarding the protection of Greenland's environment so that it goes hand in hand with the diversification of its economy. Stronger cooperation between the two parties would allow for the EU to deepen the partnership regarding the Arctic region, to support research, boost economic development and combat global warming in the most effective way. Close co-operation in fisheries has recently been underlined through the successful completion of negotiations for a new Fisheries Protocol that will enter into force next year. This agreement is to the mutual advantage of both the EU and Greenland.
Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog "EU-Greenland: a partnership for the Arctic"
The 8 of June, the World Oceans Day of the United Nations is an opportunity for the international community to celebrate our oceans, the precious common heritage of humanity, the blue dominant vital resource of our planet.
This year the World Oceans Day has a much greater poignancy for two reasons. Firstly, this year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which is considered as the constitution of the Oceans as it provides the overall legal framework for all human activities in the oceans. Secondly, June 8 just precedes the third UN Earth Summit Rio + 20 and where it is the Commission's intention that it should deliver an important message of sustainability of the oceans and their resources and blue growth: we need to set the rules for the exploitation of oceans and seas to be sustainable and able to contribute to the collective wealth of humanity.
Commissioner Damanaki meets with Frédéric Cuvillier, French Minister for Transports and Maritime Economy
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with the new French minister for Transports and Maritime Economy, Mr Frédéric Cuvillier, to discuss Maritime Affairs and the Common Fisheries Policy, including the reform.
Commissioner Damanaki said "I look forward to working with the new French minister and to seeing his proposals".