The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of November 2012 took place in Brussels on 28-29 November 2012, under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.
The Council discussed and decided on the Commission's proposal on fishing opportunities for certain deep-sea fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2013-2014.
Commissioner Damanaki commented: "I'm glad to see that our cooperation within the Council is improving; scientific advice is well respected and we are all moving in the same direction: towards sustainability. Scientific advice is improving: this year, we had scientific advice about two deep-sea fish stocks, and we followed it; we adopted a proposal on sharks, coming from the Commission, where we kept TAC at zero level, as this is a vulnerable species and we want to ensure its sustainability. I would also like to thank the fishing industry for its cooperation and for providing us with concrete data that permitted us to have a better informed view on the state of the stocks."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki replied to the letter she received from PEW Environment Group on fisheries issues [131 KB] .
Dear Dr. Lieberman, Dear Ms. Bellion,
I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your letter dated 27 November 2012 and your kind words regarding the leadership role of the European Commission on a number of important issues in the domain of fisheries policy.
I have consistently supported a science-based policy aiming to ensure sustainability worldwide. This applies without any doubt to sharks, where as you have pointed out, good progress has been made on a real ban on shark finning and at ICCAT at the RFMO level.
I am committed to securing further progress on these issues, as well as on the ongoing Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the coming months.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Co Verdaas, Minister for Agriculture of The Netherlands.
Commissioner Damanaki hails European Parliament's support for Commission proposal to ban shark finning
The European Parliament has today supported by an overwhelming majority the Commission's proposal to ban the practice of shark finning.
Commissioner Damanaki has hailed the result of the vote saying:
"I welcome Parliament's decision to follow the Commission's proposal to close the loopholes in our current rules. I am now looking forward to a swift agreement between Parliament and Council on a real ban to shark finning, without any derogations".
Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog: " A Real Ban on Shark Finning "
Commissioner Maria Damanaki participated in a joint debate at the European Parliament plenary on five reports on:
• Shark Finning (Patrao Neves-report),
Read more about the European Commission proposal on Strengthening EU shark finning ban
• Multiannual plan for the Baltic salmon stock (Gróbarcyzk-report),
• Conservation of fishery resources through technical measures (Gallagher-report),
• Small-scale fisheries (Ferreira-report),
Read more and comment on this on Maria Damanaki's blog "Learning from our mistakes" and see also European Artisanal Fishermen’s Declaration presented to Commissioner Damanaki
• The external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (Lövin-report).
Read more and comment on this on Maria Damanaki's blog "A bold external action for sustainable fisheries management worldwide"
The European Parliament is voting on all five reports on 22 November.
Commissioner Damanaki intervention at the debate:
"Mr President, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank all rapporteurs for their work on these important reports.
Let me start with the multiannual plan for the Baltic salmon stock. I would first like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Gróbarczyk. I welcome Parliament's endorsement that this stock should be managed according to the principle of Maximum Sustainable Yield. I also welcome ideas that would increase the protection of the stocks, like higher smolt production targets in rivers.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki has met today with representatives of artisanal fishermen. The meeting followed the adoption of a common European Artisanal Fishermen’s Declaration last Sunday at the European Artisanal Fishermen Congress. The Declaration asks EU decision-makers to restore the health of our seas in Europe and the rest of the world, to bring the number of fishing vessels in line with available fish stocks, to end harmful subsidies and to grant the right to fish to those who fish sustainably.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the main points of the Declaration and emphasized the special socio-economic role artisanal fishermen play in the EU. She encouraged representatives of artisanal fishermen to have their voices heard in the decision-making process, in particular during the ongoing negotiations on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Tomorrow, the European Parliament will discuss the report by Ms Lövin on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy. This report is a major and a timely contribution: we need bold external action for sustainable fisheries management worldwide.
The external dimension is an important part of the ongoing Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Overall, our conservation efforts make little sense if we don’t make sure that the same commitment is taken at international level. We need to project the principle of sustainability and its rules on the international arena, ensuring that EU vessels are subject to the same clear rules when they fish in international waters as when they fish at home and creating a level playing field for our fishermen. Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's Blog
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) 18th annual meeting, held in Agadir, Morocco, from 12 to 19 November 2012, has concluded its works, adopting, among others, measures for the sustainability of Blue fin Tuna and Marlin.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the decisions on sustainability of fisheries: "Adopted conservation measures for the sustainability of Bluefin Tuna and Marlins are in line with scientific advice. The recovery plan for Eastern Bluefin tuna has been reviewed and strengthened, setting the Total Allowable Catches at 13.400 tons per year as of 2013. Moreover, a better management and control system for members of ICCAT was adopted. However, I regret that ICCAT was not successful in its decisions over a better protection of sharks, as long as measures tabled by the EU for the sustainability of stocks of Shortfin Mako and Portbeagle were not supported."
The European Commission today presented its proposal for next year's (2013) fishing opportunities for fish stocks which are jointly managed with third parties, such as Norway or Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) throughout the world. International negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still on-going. The proposal therefore includes relatively few figures at this stage. It will be completed once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "Today's proposal concerns those stocks that are managed jointly by the EU with other countries and within RFMOs. For many stocks, the Commission is still negotiating on behalf of the EU Member States. In these negotiations, the Commission will do its utmost to obtain the best outcome for our fishermen while also respecting scientific advice. I strongly hope that our partners and the international community will also show their commitment to sustainable fisheries."
Today's proposal, as well as an earlier proposal relating to fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be discussed at the Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels in December.
Today the European Commission adopted an Action Plan to address the problem of incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears.
Scientific evidence has shown that high numbers of seabird species including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers are being caught in fishing gear every year. Measures taken so far have been ineffective. The new Action Plan sets up a management framework to minimise seabird bycatch to the lowest levels practically possible.
Commissioner Damanaki commented on the Action Plan:
"We see today's Action Plan as a platform for giving a clear and comprehensive picture of the current situation and progress needed in order to achieve coherent and effective management to minimise seabird bycatch."
The plan is drawn up in accordance with the objectives and principles of the on-going Common Fisheries Policy reform: it promotes ecosystem management, ie covering all components of the ecosystem. It also puts forward a "bottom-up", regionalised approach whereby more responsibility is given to Member States and stakeholders to implement appropriate measures to tackle fisheries problems.
Today, the European Commission stepped up its action to fight illegal fishing worldwide by warning eight third countries that they risk being identified as countries it considers non-cooperative in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The countries in question are: Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "This is not a black list, but a yellow card. We want these countries as partners to combat illegal fishing. We want them to improve their legal and control systems as required by international rules. But we also want to signal to the world that the EU will not tolerate IUU fishing - a criminal activity which undermines the livelihood of fishing communities and depletes fish stocks. It must be eradicated by all means."
This decision is the first of its kind and it highlights that these countries are not doing enough to fight illegal fishing. It identifies concrete shortcomings, such as lack of dialogue or lack of actions to address deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance of fisheries, and suggests corrective actions to resolve them. The decision will not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. The eight countries have been notified and given a reasonable time to respond and to rectify the situation. The Commission has also proposed an action plan for each country. Should the situation not improve, the EU could take further steps, which could entail trade measures such as a ban on selling fisheries products to the EU.
ICCAT 2012: EU to push for Protection of Bluefin Tuna, Marlin and Sharks as fight against illegal fishing continues
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) is holding its annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco, from 12 to 19 of November 2012. In this annual meeting the European Commission, which represents the EU, is hoping to build on the success of last year's negotiations, which included decisions on multi-annual management measures for Mediterranean Swordfish and Tropical Tuna along with protection measures for silky shark and seabirds based on best available science. This year's priority will be Bluefin tuna as the multi-annual recovery plan is due for review.
Ensuring a level playing field between our fishermen and those coming from countries surrounding the Mediterranean and the Black Sea
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) headquarters, where she met the GFCM Chairman, Mr Stefano Cataudella, and Executive Secretary, Mr Abdellah Srour. The meeting focused on the ongoing reform of the GFCM, which aims at making this organisation fit for the challenges ahead in the domain of sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "I fully support the aims and objectives of the reform of the GFCM. A lot of good results have been achieved; still, we need to aim for the transformation of this organisation. Priority areas are: the enhancement of scientific advice and data collection, fighting IUU and reinforcing compliance and good governance. This organisation should ensure a level playing field between our fishermen and those coming from countries surrounding the same sea basins."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki was in Rome, on 8 November 2012, for a series of meetings with high-level personalities and organisations on key fisheries issues. She met FAO Director-General Mr Graziano da Silva and the staff of the organisation.
More specifically, she discussed cooperation issues between FAO and the European Union in the fight against IUU (Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated) fishing, port state measures, joint actions in the Mediterranean and Black Sea (including FAO projects supported by the EU) and aquaculture.
Commissioner Damanaki also met the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) Executive Secretary Abdellah Srour and Professor Stefano Cataudella, Chair of the GFCM.
"Ensuring a level playing field between our fishermen and those coming from countries surrounding the Mediterranean and the Black Sea" - Statement by Commissioner Damanaki following her visit at the GFCM headquarters.
Maria Damanaki concluded her visit to Rome with a meeting with Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Mr Mario Catania. They discussed the use of driftnets and the on-going reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, including the financial resources from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Following up on the visit by Commissioner Damanaki to Rabat in April, formal negotiations on the terms of a new Protocol with Morocco will start on 8/11.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki stated:
"I am glad to announce that the negotiations for a new fisheries agreement protocol with Morocco are starting today . Cooperation with Morocco is essential in our efforts towards the efficient management of fish stocks. For this, the Council gave me a mandate, and together with Morocco, we have committed to conclude a renewed partnership that is in line with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and its external dimension, ensuring maximum benefit to both parties."
Commissioner Damanaki meets Daniel Constantin, Romanian Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Daniel Constantin, Romanian Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Today, WWF presented 150,000 signatures to the European Parliament from citizens across Europe demanding ambition in reforming the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
On the top of the petition, WWF affirms that 30,000 citizens already wrote to Members of the European Parliament last month, through the ‘Stop Bankrupting our Oceans’ initiative. Ms Ulrike Rodust MEP, author of the report on the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation, accepted the petition signatures on behalf of Parliament. Her report will be voted by the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee possibly in the following weeks.
The petition urged Members of the European Parliament to support measures aiming to stop discards, to promote regionalisation and to apply the same principles to all European boats wherever they operate in the world.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the petition: "It is important that citizens are aware of what is at stake. Our proposal is more ambitious than the compromise reached by EU Ministers in the Council: my hope is that the European Parliament will lead the delivery of a reform that meets the expectations of our citizens".
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
The decisions taken last night by the Eurogroup give breathing space to Greece. They make it possible for Greece to pay salaries and pensions in December, to stabilise its banking system and to cover the gap in its budget which is still in deficit. The sacrifices and the suffering of the Greek citizens were not in vain. However, it is clear that there are still major difficulties ahead. There is a lot to be done in order for the Greek economy to get back on the track of recovery and sustainability. Ahead of us lies the implementation of the painful measures, recently voted by the Greek Parliament, in order for structural reforms to advance; their implementation will set the basis for a change in the economy’s course towards growth and jobs.
The decisions taken by the Eurogroup are also a sigh of relief for Europe. The Eurozone demonstrated its willingness to remain strong and the financial mechanisms that we put in place to address the crisis showed that they can respond with flexibility. The European partners took a number of steps demonstrating the Union’s solidarity. But what is of utmost importance is that our creditors, the Troika, the IMF, have finally recognized, albeit indirectly, that the targets of the bailout package for Greece were unattainable and the original estimates were misguided, thus leading to recession and unemployment. Therefore, they recognized that combating the crisis cannot be achieved through recipes of extreme austerity and strict fiscal discipline only. Those of us, within and outside the European Commission, who have defended that austerity is not a one-way route, that it should not be pursued at the expense of growth, and that it should be combined with social policy stabilisers to avoid the prolonged recession and social injustice, are now vindicated. Read more and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog "Ανάσα για την Ελλάδα και την Ευρώπη"
Maritime affairs and fisheries
The European Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain and the Presidency of the Government of Galicia have co-hosted the EU-wide stakeholders Conference "European Aquaculture: the path for growth", in La Coruña.
After the event, Commissioner Damanaki commented: "Giving European aquaculture a lifeline and boost sustainable growth for the sector is what we need and participants inspired us in many ways on how to translate today's event into input for Strategic Aquaculture Guidelines to make this happen."
The debate in La Coruña is the finalisation of a wide consultation process launched in Salzburg. As a next step the European Commission will propose common objectives and targets for strategic guidelines on sustainable aquaculture that the Commission plans to adopt in February 2013.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki is in Dubai to take part in the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, which brings together leaders of the World Economic Forum's Network.
Among the themes to be discussed are oceans management and fisheries policy at global level through the interaction among political leaders, the business community, academia and civil society.