The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of February took place in Brussels on 25 and 26 February 2013, under the presidency of Mr Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Council discussed the main Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Fisheries Policy, proposed by the Commission in July 2011, as part of the package of proposals for a new, reformed fisheries policy for the EU.
Ministers reached a general approach on the remaining parts of the Regulation, after the partial approach they agreed in June 2012 under Danish Presidency. More specifically, the Council focused on the environmental obligations of Member States and on the ban of discards that are foreseen in the Regulation. The Council position foresees that all species will be covered by the discard ban. Negotiations with the European Parliament will start immediately in trilogues and the Commission stands ready to fully play its role in order to achieve the most ambitious outcome.
Interpol's Environmental Crime Program will launch 'Project Scale', to coordinate international action against illegal fishing, after identifying the need for a more systematic approach to deal with such crimes impacting on food availability and security.
During the first International Fisheries Enforcement Conference and Fisheries Crime Working Group Meeting, being held 26 to 28 February in Lyon, France, Interpol said it wants to develop a coordinated, global approach to fisheries crime and strengthen cooperation and communication between national agencies and international organizations in the field of fisheries.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki commented on Interpol's project: "This opens up yet another promising avenue for challenging IUU pirates. The EU has achieved a lot since adopting the IUU regulation but we cannot do the job alone. International cooperation is vital and the EU will continue to enforce the rules and push for international cooperation at all levels."
Commissioner Damanaki meets Richard Benyon, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in charge of Natural Environment and Fisheries
Commissioner Damanaki met with Richard Benyon, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in charge of Natural Environment and Fisheries.
Commissioner Damanaki meets with the Greek Association of Frozen Food, the Association of Mariculutres and the National Association of Small and Medium Fish farmers
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met today in Athens with the Greek Association of Frozen Food, the Association of Mariculutres and the National Association of Small and Medium Fish farmers.
During the meeting the stakeholders expressed their concerns on delays in the absorption of MFF funds that the Commission has ring fenced for the aquaculture industry.
Commissioner Damanaki warned that if no action is taken by the Greek government within the next two months, the funding opportunity for Greece, under the 2007-2013 framework, will be lost.
The EU-Mauritania Joint Committee, under the current EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Protocol, took place on 19-20 February in Paris. Both parties agreed to convene rapidly a Joint Scientific Committee with the aim of updating the status of all fish stocks, including cephalopods, as well as examining other technical measures for various fisheries. Technical conditions have been improved with the aim of making the Protocol more economically viable, including the increase of by-catch for the shrimps category and the extension of the southern pelagic zone. Moreover, a number of clarifications were introduced and agreed upon on various issues, aiming to ensure more efficient fishing operations.
The Commission welcomes the fact that good progress has been made without deviating from the main principles of the Protocol, such as sustainability and the respect of scientific advice. This outcome will definitely have a positive impact on the future implementation of the Protocol.
Commissioner Damanaki at the European Parliament Fisheries Committee to exchange views on long term management plans
Commissioner Maria Damanaki participated in an exchange of views with the members of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, mainly focussing on long term management plans.
Commissioner Damanaki started by thanking the members of the European Parliament for the support they they gave to an ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. She said she was looking forward to working with Parliament and Council in the trilogues with a view to reaching a compromise between the institutions.
On long term management plans, Commissioner Damanaki highlighted that management plans are an essential element to improve economic opportunities for the fishing industry. She re-emphasized that the Commission agrees with the Parliament that management plans should be adopted jointly by Parliament and Council and argued that all concerned must engage with the aim to find pragmatic solutions. She confirmed that the Commission remains committed to solve the interinstitutional deadlock.
The 5th round of negotiations took place in Rabat on 11 and 12 February 2013. The parties agreed to meet again for a 6th round in Brussels. The date will be announced shortly.
Commission welcomes the vote of European Parliament supporting its proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy
The European Commission welcomes today's vote of the European Parliament on its position on the Commission's proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). With this vote the Parliament is paving the way for negotiations with the Council with a view to concluding an agreement on the new policy.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki stated: "The European Parliament has supported with a broad majority an ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy by endorsing the approach put forward by the Commission. I welcome the vote and I am especially pleased with the Parliament's support for a policy that is based on exploiting fisheries resources sustainably (according the principle of the Maximum Sustainable Yield from 2015), a policy that subscribes to a discard ban with clear dates to put an end to wasteful practices that we can no longer afford. I would like to congratulate the Parliament on this success and I am looking forward to the work that the Council and the Parliament will soon start to ensure the adoption of the reform of the CFP. "
Read what happens after the vote on Maria Damanaki's blog.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki took part in the European Parliament plenary debate on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, on Tuesday 5 February. The vote on the report by Ms Rodust, which was approved by the European Parliament Fisheries Committee in December 2012, is scheduled on Wednesday 6 February. Debates and votes can be followed live .
Intervention by Commissioner Maria Damanaki:
"Dear President, Honorable Members of Parliament,
Let me first of all express my sincere thanks to the Members of this House for their dedicated work on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Ulrike Rodust and to her team for their efforts in bringing about a very good compromise on the Commission's proposal. Let me also thank the shadow rapporteurs for their work.
The following statement was made by Oliver Drewes, spokesperson for Commissioner Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries:
"The Commission regrets Iceland's announcement of a unilateral fishing quota for mackerel. We regret that Iceland has decided its own quota unilaterally and not in consultation with its partners, for yet another year.
Iceland's claim to reduce its quota conceals the fact that Iceland's unilateral quota remains excessively high, before and after the reduction. Iceland awards itself almost a quarter (23% ) of the entire scientifically justified quota for the North Atlantic mackerel stock, from a zero level a few years ago. This leaves the 10 or more other fishing nations to share the remainder, therefore Iceland's mackerel fisheries is still unsustainable and ignores the health of the mackerel fish stock as well as the legitimate interests of all other costal parties.
Iceland's self-awarded quota of 23% exceeds by far Iceland's own claim, made at the negotiating table, and anything that scientific surveys can justify.
Science is clearly pointing to the need to reduce catches of mackerel. The European Union and Norway have imposed on themselves much higher reductions in 2013. The European Union and Norway have cut their catches by more than 89 000 tonnes, compared to Iceland's announced reduction of around 25 000 tonnes.
The Commission remains committed to finding a multilateral solution with all coastal partners and appeals to Iceland to return to the negotiating table with an offer that is sustainable and constructive."
The latest round of negotiations between the EU and Morocco regarding the renewal of the protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement ended on the 1st of February in Brussels. Real and gradual progress is being made.
It was agreed that the next round will take place on 11th and 12th of February 2013 in Rabat, Morocco.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Vigilijus Jukna, Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture.
Commissioner Damanaki meets Kasimirz Plocke, Polish Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Kasimirz Plocke, Polish Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Commissioner Damanaki meets Petar Ivanović, Montenegrin Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Petar Ivanović, Montenegrin Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki visited Ukraine for a series of discussions on Black Sea regional cooperation in the field of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
In Kiev, Commissioner Damanaki met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov, with the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Ecology, the Minister for Infrastructures and the Chairman of the State Agency for Fisheries.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Brussels, New York, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Khartoum, Bali, Manila, Sao Paolo...Worlwide. One Billion Rising.
As part of the global campaign urging people to stand up on 14th February to protest violence against women and children, Commissioner Maria Damanaki made the following statement to lent her support:
"I greatly support this worldwide campaign aiming to raise awareness on the grave issue of violence against women and children. One in three women report having experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. It is our duty to put an end to this. Respect for human rights, for human dignity and equal treatment for all are fundamental principle that concern every single one of us."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki took part in the New Year's celebration event organised at the European Commission Representation Office in Athens.