The European Commission is participating as a major benefactor in the Indian Ocean Tuna Tagging Symposium, 30 October – 2 November 2012, in Grand Baie, Mauritius. The EU supported the research project, the Indian Ocean Tuna Tagging Programme (IOTTP), through the European Development Fund and between 2002 - 2009 more than 200,000 tuna were tagged and released in various areas of the Indian Ocean. The aim of this project was to know more about the status and population dynamics of the main stocks of tropical tunas in the Indian Ocean.
This symposium will focus on the evaluation of the IOTTP so far. Today more than 31,500 tags have already been recovered in this project, giving new insights into the spatial and migratory movements along with population dynamics and the biology of tropical tuna species such as Yellowfin. The latest results of this research will hopefully allow a debate on the relationship between science and management which should lead to improvements in long-term sustainability, which is at the core of the reform of Common Fisheries Policy.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the symposium:
I think we can all agree that one of the major challenges we are facing today is the health of seas, oceans and marine resources. But the world also needs healthy seafood as well as growth and jobs in coastal areas. So, while the world needs to preserve genetic biodiversity, we also need to ensure the industry’s viability and protect those who make their living from fishing."
The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2013 for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the total allowable catches (TACs) for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of cod, Norway lobster, and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "We have to think long-term. European fishermen face a bleak future without sustainable, healthy stocks. Thanks to long-term management a number of stocks in the Atlantic waters are already fished at MSY levels. But at the same time 47% of stocks are still overfished. These facts support the Commission's vision for the CFP reform."
EU Council agrees on a partial general approach for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-2020
Commissioner Maria Damanaki represented the Commission at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of October 2012, which takes place in Luxemburg on 22 and 23 October 2012, under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.
EU Ministers reached a partial general approach on the Commission's proposal on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented on the Council outcome:
"After long negotiations, EU Ministers reached a compromise on the future European fund to support fisheries and maritime affairs.
This compromise can be a step forward for the reform of our Common Fisheries Policy. It leaves open the perspective of breaking with the past.
Of course, our proposal is more ambitious than the compromise achieved in the Council: it puts an end to the ineffective subsidies of the past, which contributed to overfishing and to the economic decline of the fishing sector. It gets a much better return to tax-payers' money.
Even so, the Council position leaves room for a radical change: the Council decided to phase out scrapping of vessels –a measure that is strongly criticized by the European Court of Auditors – and is in favour of strict conditions for temporary cessation and engine replacement, to the benefit of young fishermen and local fisheries.
Moreover the amounts allocated for these purposes will be capped, in order to give priority to measures that improve scientific advice and control, increase selectivity and put in place the discard ban, favour small-scale fisheries, boost innovation, implement sustainability policies to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield and provide consumers with all the information they need.
Our proposal is still on the table. We are now looking forward to the decision of the European Parliament to put more weight on the targets of our proposal. In the trilogues, the European Commission will stand for a new, sustainable Common Fisheries Policy, and I hope this is something we can achieve with the cooperation of both the Council and the Parliament."
The Fisheries Council reached a political agreement on Fishing Opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2013. After the discussions among the ministers, the compromise was reached just after the first exchange of views.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki welcomed the Council decision: "Such a decision was only possible due to the extensive preparatory work carried out by the Presidency and Commission but also by BaltFish, the forum established by Member States around the Baltic Sea. This voluntary initiative is a good example of a regional platform for discussing Commission proposals or developing new initiatives at regional level. The Baltic Member States showed a clear commitment to keep to the objective of achieving fisheries at MSY levels by 2015 for almost all stock."
The total allowable catch (TAC) for the western cod stock has been adopted lower than initially proposed by the Commission in order to achieve sustainable levels, known as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) sooner than forecast in the management plan. Since the BaltFish proposals were within the limits of the scientific advice, and commonly agreed among all Baltic Sea Member States, the Commission decided to agree with them as a final compromise in the Council.
With the decision reached, three of the Baltic stocks will continue to be fished at MSY levels, whilst the other three pursue their progress towards reaching this target by 2015.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki meets Kazimierz Florian Plocke, Polish Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Kazimierz Florian Plocke, Polish Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.
"Pirate Fishing Exposed": new report investigates Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fisheries in West Africa
Environmental Justice Foundation issued the report "Pirate Fishing Exposed - The Fight Against Illegal Fishing in West Africa and the EU", describing illegal fishing activities in West Africa and outlining the results of the EJF's Community Surveillance project in Sierra Leone. The report highlights that, along with the economic losses (global losses due to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing are estimated to be between US$10 billion and US$23.5 billion per year), illegal fishing in West Africa severely compromises the food security and livelihoods of coastal communities. In Sierra Leone, fish represents 64 percent of total animal protein consumed in the country, and an estimated 230,000 people are directly employed in fisheries. The report estimates that West African waters have the highest levels of IUU fishing in the world, representing up to 37% of the region’s catch.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the report: "I agree with the rationale that illegal fishing activities cause the depletion of fish stocks and impact severely the marine environment, undermining legitimate fishing operators by benefitting from lower costs. The European Commission has closely followed up presumed illegal fishing activities in Sierra Leone waters of several fishing vessels authorised to export to the EU under sanitary rules. As the EU is a potential market for the products concerned, we have launched alert messages to our Member States in order to prevent importations of these products. In parallel, The European Commission has requested investigations from the flag States concerned. Should these fraudulent activities be confirmed, the ongoing process could lead to listing of these vessels on the EU IUU vessels list. When on this "blacklist", they are "banned" from fishing, landing their catches and selling them in the EU."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The meeting focussed on food, nutrition security issues and global fisheries.
FAO is at the heart of world Food Security and the EU is consistently the largest single source of voluntary funding to the Organisation.
At the margins of the meeting, Commissioner Damanaki said: "The Common Fisheries Policy, including its external dimension, has the objective of sustainable management of fisheries resources. Our policy contributes to food security within and outside the EU - its purpose is to make healthy protein sources in form of fish and seafood available in a sustained and predictable manner. Bringing back fish stocks to sustainable exploitation levels, eliminating discards, reducing overcapacity and applying a zero tolerance to IUU fishing are goals that we must pursue at global level. I am convinced that our work with FAO will contribute to deliver tangible results in many aspects related to these areas."
Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog: "Fish, hunger and malnutrition"
The European Commission proposed today fishing opportunities for the deep-sea fish stocks in EU and international waters of the North-East Atlantic for 2013-2014. In line with the scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase total allowable catches (TACs) for 3 stocks, a decrease for 13 stocks, and maintain TACs at the current level for 8 stocks (including zero TACs for 6 stocks), compared to 2012.
European Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "to preserve the deep-sea fishery, we need to follow the scientific advice, and not overexploit these vulnerable species. Still, three of the stocks seem to be on the path towards recovery and MSY levels. We have a clear management objective: a long-term sustainable use of these stocks."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki meets Ms Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Ms Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Oscar Osorio, Panamanian Minister for Agricultural Development.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Henk Bleker, Dutch Minister for Agriculture and Foreign Trade.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki is in Athens with Vice-President Antonio Tajani, on Monday 29 October. Together, the two Commissioners met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. A joint press conference of the two Commissioners followed in the premises of the European Commission Representation Office in Athens.
Commissioner Damanaki said during the press conference: "With Vice-President Tajani, we work closely together, to boost growth and jobs and support SMEs, exploiting the sunergies between the policies we are responsible for. The forthcoming initative on Coastal and Maritime Tourism will be important to create the conditions for innovation, enhance skills and give visibility to quality products, in a sector that is very important in Europe and can be determinant for Greece to exit the crisis."
Vice-President Tajani and Commissioner Damanaki also addressed the participants in the annual meeting of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE). Commissioner Damanaki delivered a speech "New opportunities for the tourism of the sea".
Commissioner Damanaki meets Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarellis, Secretary General of Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Commissioner Damanaki met with Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarellis, Secretary General of Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The European Commission is participating in the 4th International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE) to highlight the strategic importance of ocean energy in the context of Blue Growth. The Conference is taking place in Dublin from 17 to 19 of October 2012. The ICOE will bring together over 750 international experts, academics, policy makers and leading companies to exchange views, share information and best practices, and stimulate collaboration on the development of ocean renewable energy technologies.
Ocean energy – i.e. energy derived from harnessing the power of tides and waves or differences in temperature or salinity - was identified as one of the five most promising growth areas in the Commission's Communication on "Blue Growth: opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth", adopted on 13 September 2012. While not yet as developed as the offshore wind energy –the other component of marine renewable energy – it is estimated that ocean renewable energy has the potential to contribute up to 15% of the EU's energy mix, create thousands of new jobs and contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Commission is therefore paying particular attention to developments in the ocean energy sector and to events such as the ICOE as it will analyse the prospects of developing an EU policy on ocean energy in the coming months.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Meeting with Mr Constantinos Mousouroulis, Greek Minister for Shipping and Aegean sea, in the margins of the Ministerial Conference on EU Integrated Maritime Policy, in Cyprus.
A European agenda for creating growth and jobs in the marine and maritime sectors was adopted today by European Ministers for maritime policy and the European Commission, represented by President Jose Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Maria Damanaki at a conference in Limassol organised by the Cypriot Presidency.
Five years after the launch of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy, the Member States and the Commission reaffirmed that a dynamic and coordinated approach to maritime affairs enhances the development of the EU's 'Blue Growth' while ensuring the health of seas and oceans.
The declaration proposes a marine and maritime agenda to back the Europe 2020 strategy. As highlighted in the Commission's recent Blue Growth initiative on opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth, the agenda focuses on promising maritime sectors where there is a great potential for new jobs and growth. These sectors are: marine renewable energy, aquaculture, blue biotechnology, coastal tourism and sea bed mining.
Ministers also called on Member States and European Institutions to put in place the right conditions for the maritime economy to deliver: support for research and marine knowledge, maritime training, cost-efficient cooperation on maritime surveillance, improved planning of maritime space and the further implementation of the Marine strategy Framework directive.
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, stated: "seas and oceans can play a decisive role in Europe's economic recovery. Today's Declaration sends the clear message that we need to embrace the potential of Europe's Blue Economy".
Speech by President Barroso: " A strong maritime pillar for the Europe 2020 strategy "
Commissioner Maria Damanaki stressed that "to make a reality of the growth trends and opportunities in the maritime economy, we need the input of all – institutions, Member States and regions, industry, SMEs and civil society. Being able to work together to get the best results is a sign of maturity; and maritime policy is the ideal vehicle to boost the Blue Economy in Europe."
" The Integrated Maritime Policy gains momentum " - Commissioner Damanaki's speech at the Limassol High-level Ministerial Conference on EU Integrated Maritime Policy
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Gender equality has been a key principle of the EU ever since the Treaty of Rome introduced the principle of equal pay for men and women in 1957. 55 years later, with 13 directives on gender equality since the 1970s, we still need to try harder to get women at the very top – on boards. From maritime affairs to trade, from government jobs to corporate jobs, women are still the unrepresented sex on both executive and non-executive boards throughout Europe.
It is for this reason that I believe that a coordinated action is necessary at EU level to get women on boards. And a Commission proposal that sets a 40% target for women on non-executive boards by 2020 comes at the right time. It is evident that change is already taking place in some countries on this issue. 11 Member States and Norway have already adopted their own national legal solutions to get women on boards. But the reality is that change is happening slowly and inconsistently across Europe. The rate of annual increase is 0.6%, and women still represent 13.5% of board members (8.9% of executive and 15% of non-executive members). Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog
Do we need a boost towards a re-industrialisation of Europe? Yes: the low contribution of industry to the EU economy is among the conditions that diminished our capacity to react to the crisis.
Can we put our future competitiveness at risk? No: Europe is a world-leader in many strategic sectors (automotive, engineering, space, pharmaceuticals,…). Industry still accounts for 4/5 of Europe's exports and 80% of both Europe's exports and of private sector R&D investment comes from manufacturing. But to keep this advantage and start growing again, we cannot afford neglecting those sectors and technologies that have the greatest potential and spill-over effects.
This is the core message of a communication for a stronger European industry tabled by my fellow-Commissioner Antonio Tajani, which we adopted last week. Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog
The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".
As President Barroso said, this is a great honour for European citizens, for EU Member States and for the European institutions. Indeed, it shows that the European project, born from the ashes and the ruins of the World War II, is an inspiration for the international community.
A project created for Peace and that creates Peace, through our contribution to global sustainable development and our commitment for human dignity, freedom, democracy, justice, rule of law and respect of human rights.
The Nobel Prize is a sign that the international community needs a strong European Union in these difficult times. I am proud of being European and to contribute to this project. The Nobel Prize is a great recognition of decades of efforts for peace, solidarity, stability, democracy and human rights.
The College of Commissioners met today with the Presidents of the European Parliamentary Committees.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Yesterday the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission hosted an EU-Japan expert meeting to assess the risk to EU consumers of the import of fish from the Pacific following the Fukushima accident.
All fish caught in Japanese waters are monitored on landing and before export. Samples are also monitored on import to the EU. The levels of contamination have dropped. The monitoring carried out by Japanese authorities has succeeded in keeping all contaminated fish off the market and indeed no significant contamination has been measured on imports to the EU.
The analyses of the Japanese fisheries agency, the French radioprotection services, the EU Joint Research Centre and the University of New York all showed that no fish caught outside Japanese waters will be contaminated to an extent that justifies continuing monitoring of imports.
Tomorrow, Pierre-Yves Cousteau will be in Brussels to meet Commissioner Maria Damanaki and the staff of the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
Pierre-Yves Cousteau is president of Cousteau Divers, which gets individuals to actively participate in the study and protection of the environment.
Commissioner Damanaki said "Pierre-Yves Cousteau has embarked on a long-term engagement to promote the sustainable use of the marine resources. I am proud to announce that Pierre-Yves Cousteau will be my Special Advisor and I am looking forward to his input and advice on crucial issues that we will have to address in the near future."
Addressing the staff of the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Commissioner Damanaki said:
"During the first half of my mandate, I have been pushing for change. Over the last couple of years, the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy has been launched. We have put sustainability of the stocks high on the agenda. Scientific advice now comes first in the way TACs and quotas are negotiated.
We have seen hard choices made to protect the marine resources of the Mediterranean, including making sure we stop overfishing of bluefin tunas.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited the Czech Republic on 4 and 5 October. She met the Czech Minister of Agriculture Mr Petr Bendl, leading representatives of Czech Republic authorities and scientists. Commissioner Damanaki and Minister Bendl adressed the need to unleash the growth potential of European aquaculture and the role that the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will play in this respect.
On October 5, Ms Damanaki visited aquaculture farms and got first hand experience of some innovative freshwater aquaculture projects currently running in Southern Bohemia.