Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with representatives of the NGO Archipelagos to discuss the illegal use of dynamite for fishing in Southern Greece.
The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, initialled on 26 July a 2-year Fisheries Partnership Protocol between the EU and Mauritania.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "After a very long negotiation process, we have a deal. This deal is sustainable, ethical and good value for money. We have secured a legal framework which will allow EU fishing activities to continue in Mauritanian waters."
European Commission tables new measures for better protection for deep-sea stocks and their habitats
The European Commission has proposed new measures to regulate fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic. Deep sea ecosystems and the species that live in them are particularly vulnerable to human activities. The new regulation aims to ensure that deep-sea species are fished sustainably, that unwanted by-catches decrease, that the impact on fragile deep-sea habitats decreases and that there is more data on the biology of these species.
To this end the Commission proposes a reinforced licensing system and a gradual phase-out of those fishing gears that specifically target deep sea species in a less sustainable manner, namely bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets. The Commission also envisages specific requirements for the collection of data from deep sea fishing activities. The necessary adjustments to implement these measures may benefit from financial support under EU Funds.
Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog: "Deep-sea fisheries: protecting habitats at risk, safeguarding vulnerable jobs"
The European Commission has proposed a total allowable catch (TAC) of 20 700 tonnes of anchovy in the Bay of Biscay for the fishing season 1 July 2012 - 30 June 2013, representing a reduction of 30% compared to the previous season. According to the latest scientific advice on which the proposal is based, the stock remains well above safe biological limits, but its size – 68 180 tonnes – has decreased compared to last year's record-high levels. Anchovy is a species that can experience large variations from one year to the other due to its short life span and its dependency on environmental conditions for growth. Spain and France are the only Member States involved in this fishery.
Whereas in 2009 57 stocks subject to TACs in the northeast Atlantic were without scientific advice, a drastic improvement in 2012 to possibly as little as 10 to 12 stocks is expected.
The story is also positive for deep sea species. In the past very little information was available for any of these stocks. This year, ICES has given MSY advice for 4 stocks, and a suggested catch figure for eight: half of all deep sea stocks have changed from data poor to quantitative advice.
Commissioner Damanaki presents Commission Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013 at the EU Council
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of 16 July takes place in Brussels, under the Presidency of Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Mr. Sofoclis Aletraris.
Read more and comment on Commissioner Damanaki's blog: "Sustainability pays off"
At the meeting, Commissioner Damanaki presented to ministers the Commission's Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013. Commissioner Damanaki stated: "Looking at the current state of the stocks, there is very good news. We are achieving some success in eliminating overfishing. Better still, we have stocks that are moving to MSY. We had 13 EU MSY stocks last year and now we have 19 MSY stocks for the EU". She underlined that "We have seen the proof this year that moving to MSY as soon as possible can bring short term-benefits, namely 135 million € worth of catches increase. Sustainability pays off, but further efforts are still needed: let's continue this path. In our proposal this year, we are going to follow scientific advice to reach MSY as soon as possible."
As regards available scientific advice, Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the new approach followed by the advisory scientific body ICES concerning data-limited stocks, which tries to make up for the data gap by taking whatever information is available from various sources: "we can witness a great improvement in scientific advice: the new methodology is based on a sound approach. I believe that we should accept it as a package and avoid cherry picking the bits of advice that are positive for some stocks and national interests and selectively ignoring the advice that recommends catches cuts."
European Union and Japan are going to cooperate to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing - so called IUU fishing. A Joint Statement to this end will be signed today in Tokyo by Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Akira Gunji, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.
"Illegal fishing is a criminal activity. Europe is committed to fight it and we have been building alliances worldwide,” said Commissioner Damanaki. “Today's agreement with Japan will help us enforce the rules, and it moves us closer to clearing our seas of dishonest fishermen."
The EU and Japan rank first and second, respectively, as the world’s top seafood importers. They have now agreed that the seafood they import will not be caught illegally. Globally, IUU fishing deprives honest fishermen and coastal communities of up to $23 billion worth of seafood and seafood products annually. IUU fishing also threatens sustainability of fish stocks.
With today’s agreement the EU and Japan commit themselves to work together on the most effective tools to combat illegal fishing. As parties to regional fishery management organisations and to various international treaties, they will work towards strengthening monitoring and enforcement of management measures. They will also use the available means to prevent IUU operators from profiting from their illegal activities.
A new report on member states' efforts to balance fishing capacity with fishing opportunities published by the European Commission supports calls for significant changes within EU fisheries policy. It confirms the very slow pace at which the EU fishing fleet continues to decrease in size.
Overcapacity, i.e. too many fishing boats for the volume of fish that can be caught, remains one of the main obstacles to achieve sustainable fisheries. In 2010 fleet capacity expressed in engine power and tonnage was reduced on average by 2% and 4% respectively. This figure is similar to previous years. At this rate, eliminating overcapacity quickly will be difficult, especially as technological progress at least partly compensates for capacity reductions. Several Member States have concluded in their national reports that fleet reductions would contribute to achieve healthy fisheries. Changes in the current policy are thus necessary. The report's findings put into question the efficiency of publicly financed capacity reductions. A 2011 Court of Auditors' report also concluded the failure of the current measures, and advocates either a new approach or better application of existing measures.
European Commission assesses implementation of measures to protect juvenile fish in the Mediterranean
A report by the European Commission published today looks at the conformity of towed nets to provisions aiming at protecting juvenile fish in sensitive areas of the Mediterranean. The report concludes more rigorous and targeted control is required from Member States to improve the implementation and enforcement of rules defining the minimum mesh sizes.
Commissioner Damanaki commented: "Even if data available makes it difficult to have conclusive evidence, there are indications that the average size of fish caught is increasing. I call on EU countries to take the most adequate measures to enforce this rule and make sure that sanctions are sufficiently deterrent."
In the margins of the 17th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference held in Reykjavik on 3 July 2012, Commissioner Maria Damanaki and Norwegian Fisheries Minster Lisbeth Berg-Hansen met with the Icelandic Fisheries Minister, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, to discuss mackerel.
It was agreed to meet at political level in London on 3 September next with the objective of resolving the issue.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki represents the European Union at the 17th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference, in Reykjavik, Iceland, from 2 to 4 July.
The participants at this meeting are Ministers of Fisheries and their representatives from the main fishing parties in the North Atlantic, namely the EU, Canada, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation. The conference focused on the most effective policies to stop discards, the practice of throwing unwanted fish back to sea. The participants also discussed eco-labelling and methods to ensure traceability of fish products, as well as results and impressions of Rio+20.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed EU Council stance in favour of the proposal authorising the European Commission to impose a range of measures against third countries that allow unsustainable fishing.
The Regulation, which was proposed by the Commission in December last year, provides a framework allowing the EU to take measures for protecting fish stocks against third countries engaged in unsustainable practices in the management of fish resources they share with the EU.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Commissioner Maria Damanaki, Member of the EC in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries met today in Brussels Dimitris Kourkoulas, Greek Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Cyprus took up the presidency of the EU on 1 July. The Members of the European Commission travelled to Nicosia to meet their counterparts in the Cypriot government, to discuss the semester priorities. One of the country's main tasks will be to achieve agreement on the Commission's budget proposals for 2014-20. The budget sets the EU's medium-term priorities - accelerating economic growth, creating jobs and improving competitiveness.
Boosting the development of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy will be among the priorities of the Cypriot presidency, which is organizing a Ministerial meeting on this subject on 8th October.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Commissioner Maria Damanaki signs agreement with Japan to fight Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visits Japan from 9 to 13 July. The aim of the visit is to strengthen the cooperation between the EU and Japan on fisheries and maritime policies.
On 11 July, Commissioner Damanaki and Akira Gunji, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, signed, on behalf of the EU and on behalf of the government of Japan in the field of fisheries, a Joint Statement on mutual cooperation in the fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing .
The visit's programme also includes meetings with several other ministers and authorities, as well as with NGOs and academia.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met today Mr Jean Omer Beriziky, Prime Minister of Madagascar. Commissioner Damanaki stated: "I welcome the recent initialling of a two-year Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Madagascar: the Commission is determined to further strengthen our cooperation in the fisheries domain. Madagascar is not only an important partner with regard to our bilateral relationship but in the regional contex as well, as member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission".
Commissioner Damanaki also encouraged the Malagasy administration to further enhance the concrete achievements regarding the implementation of actions funded by sectoral support granted through the Fisheries Partnership Agreement .
During the meeting, Commissioner Damanaki and Prime Minister Beriziky discussed the common commitment to tackle piracy in the area.
The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have today outlined the way forward for the EU's constructive engagement in the Arctic. The Arctic region is a vital component of the Earth's environment. Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants. At the same time, rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach: further repercussions for the fragile Arctic can be expected if top environmental standards are not met.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "The Arctic is rapidly going through important changes, allowing for new economic activity in a fragile part of the world. There are environmental challenges and opportunities that require global attention and the EU can help substantially: in research, funding, combating global warming and developing greener technologies. This is what the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy is all about, to contribute to common solutions for the sustainable management of the seas.” Watch Commissioner Damanaki's statement