The Agriculture and Fisheries Council of EU Ministers met on 25 September in Brussels, on fisheries issues. Under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Ministers held a public debate on the Commission's proposal on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-2002. The new Fund will help deliver the ambitious objectives of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will help fishermen in the transition towards sustainable fishing, as well as coastal communities in the diversification of their economies. The fund will finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts. Red tape will be cut so that beneficiaries have easy access to financing. This fund will replace the existing European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and a number of other instruments. The proposed envelope amounts to € 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020. The Cypriot Presidency plans an orientation debate based on a number of questions in order to seek Ministers' position in view of a partial general approach at October's Council.
Intervention by Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Dear President, dear Ministers,
You have put two questions to the Ministers for our discussion on the EMFF. I am here today to hear all views on the issues identified in the Presidency questions.
Let me start with the first question concerning flexibility between the different headings in shared management.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Athanasios Tsaftaris, Greek Minister for Rural Development and Food.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki meets with Spanish minister of agriculture, food and environment, Mr Arias Cañete
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Spanish minister of agriculture, food and environment, Mr Arias Cañete, on the Fisheries Protocol EU-Mauritania
Commissioner Maria Damanaki received today a delegation of members of Europêche representing a number of fishing fleet segments from many member states and heard their views about the recently initialled protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania.
European Parliament approves framework for sanctions against countries allowing unsustainable fishing
The European Parliament approved today the proposal that the European Commission tabled in December last year, authorising the Commission to impose a range of measures against third countries that allow unsustainable fishing.
Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog: Commission, Parliament and Council together against Unsustainable Fishing
The Regulation will allow the EU to better protect fish stocks shared with third countries, by eliminating incentives to conduct non-sustainable fisheries
The measures foreseen will range from restricting imports of fish products from the concerned stock as well as associated fish species to prohibiting the conclusion of chartering agreements with economic operators from countries allowing non-sustainable fishing.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the European Parliament decision: "This legal instrument will become an integral part and a key tool of the overall Common Fisheries Policy, as it aims at ensuring sustainability. The rationale is simple: unsustainable fishing is lucrative and will always be tempting for some. But we simply cannot afford to let any third country nullify our industry's efforts and our conservation work. This instrument gives us the means to prevent that. I am confident that the final adoption of the Regulation by the Council of Ministers will proceed swiftly."
The European Commission has just tabled an amendment to the long-term management plan for cod in the North Sea, the Skagerrak, the Eastern Channel, the Kattegat, the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea. The plan, which has been in force since 2008, aims at bringing back cod stocks to sustainable levels. It has now been revised in the light of an evaluation by scientists and of feedback from the fishing sector and the Member States. In the new plan, a series of technical amendments are proposed. For instance, more flexibility is proposed in order to avoid an automatic reduction of total allowable catches (TAC) and fishing effort by 25% every year in cases of lack of certain scientific data. Also, incentives are given to member states to make their fishermen reduce discarding of unwanted fish. For instance, in fisheries where all catches are counted against quotas, the vessels participating in anti-discard trials should be exempt from the effort regime (limits of how much fishing vessels can fish).
In the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the Commission has proposed to gradually replace single-species management plans by multi-species, mixed-fishery plans. Today's amendment to the cod plan is an interim solution pending the development and implementation of such a novel mixed-fishery long-term plan for the North Sea area.
Dan Watson, a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, invented a solution to increase selectivity of trawl nets. He developed rings that fit into the cod-end of the nets –where fish are kept– and, acting as "emergency escape signs", guide juveniles and most common by-catches to safety.
The SafetyNet project is amongst the finalists from 17 other countries for the international James Dyson Award.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented: "The elimination of discards is a key-element of the proposal I have tabled to reform the EU Common Fisheries Policy. To achieve this goal, we need a shared commitment of all interested actors and we need smart, innovative solutions that can help us solve this problem in practice."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki hosted a quadrilateral Ministerial meeting on mackerel management in London, with the participation of Ms Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries, Mr Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture and Mr Jacob Vestergaard, Minister of Fisheries of the Faroe Islands.
Joint Conclusions by European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway :
1) The discussions on a quota sharing agreement were inconclusive. The respective positions remain too far apart.
2) All parties agree that the effort to find an agreement should continue in the autumn coastal state consultations process.
3) All parties agree on the need to respect scientific advice.
Joint statement by European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki and Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen : "We are extremely disappointed at the inconclusive outcome of today's Ministerial meeting on mackerel management. We will continue working closely together on this key issue, by all necessary means."
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited Slovenia on 17-18 September. During her stay, Commissioner Damanaki met Minister for Agriculture and Environment Franc Bogovič, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Zvone Černač, and members of the Committee for Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Environment of the National Assembly.
The visit focused on Slovenian fisheries and maritime affairs, discussions on the EU's Common Fisheries Policy reform and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The reformed fisheries policy will aim at preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels for the benefit of current and future generations by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way.
On 17 September, Commissioner Damanaki discussed the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy with Slovenian fishermen and non-governmental organisations, and visit the port of Izola for a presentation of the Slovenian fishing fleet. On 18 September, the Commissioner was in Ljubljana for meetings with ministers and members of Parliament.
In the framewok of her visit, Commissioner Damanaki also delivered the opening speech at the World Engineering Forum.
With the first half of my mandate as European Commissioner already gone by, this is probably a good time to see where we are in fisheries and maritime affairs – and where we are headed.
We are certainly in a time of change. Most of my mandate so far has revolved around giving our policies sustainable foundations, breaking with past practices, responding to modern challenges, driving innovation…
In the field of fisheries, I am proud to have set the reform in motion. We are now on our way toward a system that will be more respectful of eco-systems and at the same time more rewarding for fishermen. Our international action will be more decisive than ever.
In maritime affairs, I have been driving forward several projects that will help smart and green growth. I have no doubt that our Integrated Maritime Policy will play a key role in helping Europe out of the recession.
Change is never easy, and it requires time. But the support that is gathering around my plans is striking, and I know we are doing the right thing.
Stay with us to make sure we reach our destination: driving Europe out of the recession and make our policies fit for the 21st century. [ Read on ]
To make it through the crisis, Europe needs the contribution of all sectors of its economy. In a Communication on 'Blue Growth' adopted today, the European Commission presents promising indications for economic growth and employment prospects in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe's economic recovery. These economic sectors provide jobs for 5.4 million people and contribute a total gross value added of around 500 billion euros. By 2020, these should increase to 7 million and nearly 600 billion euros respectively. To realise this potential, the Commission establishes that obstacles hindering growth have to be removed and smart solutions to boost new sectors need to be implemented. By promoting marine research and innovation, by supporting innovative Small and Medium entreprises, by addressing skills needs and by encouraging innovative products and solutions, Europe can unlock the untapped potential for growth in its blue economy while safeguarding biodiversity and protecting the environment. Traditional sectors such as maritime transport and maritime and coastal tourism will gain in competitiveness. Growing and emerging sectors, such as ocean renewable energy and blue biotechnology, can become a key to creating more jobs, cleaner energy, and more products and services.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki, said: “All parts of Europe's economy are essential in lifting us through this difficult period. The 'blue economy' presents opportunities for sustainable economic growth both in established and emerging marine and maritime sectors. Innovation, enterprise and dynamism characterise these sectors of Europe's economy. Blue Growth is about getting everybody – starting from the institutions and Member States, to regions and SMEs – to work towards ensuring that we overcome existing challenges to ensure the most productive and sustainable use of what our seas and coasts offer."