The Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture has backed, by a qualified majority, a proposal of the European Commission for a Regulation adopting trade measures with regard to the Faroe Islands.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the outcome: "I am glad the Committee supported the proposal of the Commission on adopting trade measures as regards the Faroe Islands. Given the gravity of the situation and the lack of co-operation from the Faroese authorities, we had no option but to move ahead and take all necessary steps in ensuring a sustainable herring fishery managed in a joint manner by all coastal states concerned."
The Committee discussed the overfishing of atlanto-scandian herring by the Faroe Islands following a decision by its authorities earlier this year to unilaterally treble their existing quota. The Faroese decision to unilaterally increase its quota by more than three times the allocations they would have got under the existing arrangements jeopardises the long term sustainability of the stock. It also constitutes a unilateral disruption of the joint management of a crucial fishery stock.
The final decision will now come back, upon proposal of Commissioner Damanaki, to the Commission which will discuss these measures, taking into account the opinions expressed in the Committee. A decision can be expected most probably in the course of August.
Commissioner Damanaki initialled today a 4-year Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with the Moroccan Minister for Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch.
The protocol is consistent with the reform of the external dimension of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in that it places a strong emphasis on scientific advice, economic profitability, good governance and respect of international law. Sustainability is ensured by restricting fishing activity to the surplus resources in all fisheries.
Commissioner Damanaki stated: "This is an important moment for EU and Moroccan fisheries. This deal will ensure a sustainable future for the sector locally and it represents good value for money. The new protocol is in line with the principles of the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, by ensuring responsible international fisheries governance ".
A large number of Member States (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom) have an interest in the FPA with Morocco, which includes 6 fishing categories exploited by both industrial and small-scale fleet segments. The total financial envelope for Morocco is estimated at 40m EUR. More precisely, the total cost of the new Protocol to the EU will be 30m EUR a year, of which 16m EUR compensates Morocco for access to the resource. The remaining 14m EUR will be assigned to the support of the fisheries sector in the country whilst the ship owners' contribution is estimated at 10m EUR.
Commissioner Damanaki met with stagiaires of the European Commission to discuss their experiences during their 5-month internship within the institution.
During the meeting the Commissioner said: "To tackle the wound of youth unemployment we need to return to economic growth. All of us have the responsibility to work towards this main political target. Tackling unemployment is mainly a competence of Member States. The Commission's Youth Employment initiative of 6 billion EUR, which was approved by the Council, is mostly a symbolic proposal in order to mobilise Member States. More effort is needed and more funds should be made available."
An important study involving international researchers and the University of Strathclyde, assessing the status of several European fish stocks, has underlined that many of the North-East Atlantic stocks are being fished sustainably and should therefore continue to recover. Several North-East Atlantic fish stocks have already improved and the monitoring of stocks evolution have shown that low fishing pressure should be maintained in order to allow full recovery.
The study is based on various data, collected by government research institutes and by numerous fishing and research vessels, which were then reviewed by the International Council for the Exploration of the SEA (ICES).
According to Commissioner Damanaki, this study shows that real changes in policy making, such as lower pressure on fish stocks, are a real improvement and an example of proper pace towards sustainability.
The European Commission has adopted an updated list of vessels that cannot land or sell their fish in the EU as they have been identified as taking part in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The list comprises vessels included in the IUU lists, adopted by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) around the world.
RFMOs have their own procedures to identify vessels which do not comply with their rules and are therefore fishing illegally. The RFMOs communicate their lists to the European Commission at which point the EU list is updated. The lists submitted by the RFMOs this year has identified 66 vessels as fishing illegally, a reduction of 3 from last year. All vessels on the list will be unable to sell or land their fish in the EU.
More information on the EU list of vessels engaged in IUU fishing adopted can be found here .
Speech of Commissioner Damanaki during the June plenary session of the European Parliament on IUU can be found here.
The Council has agreed on July 15 a general approach on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Commissioner Damanaki has welcomed this compromise during the press conference. She has further pointed out that money dedicated to the outermost regions will increase by 50%.
192 500 000€ will be attributed over the programming period to compensate the outermost regions, out of which, per year, up to 6 450 000€ will be dedicated to the Azores and Madeira, 8 700 000€ for the Canary Islands and 12 350 000€ for the French outermost regions, including Mayotte.
The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers has backed today new criteria for fisheries fund allocations.
Under the current European Fisheries Fund (EFF), the allocation distributed to Member States followed a cohesion approach: it took into account the GDP and as a result it privileged those Member States with a lower GDP.
For the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), whose aim is to accompany the implementation of the CFP Reform rather than to support regional development (other structural funds are better equipped for this purpose), the Commission has proposed to base the allocation of resources on a sectorial approach, taking into account criteria such as employment and production in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and the share of small scale coastal fishing in the fishing fleet.
These new criteria will promote a level playing field among fishermen from all Member States and ensure proportional shares of the EMFF attributed to both fisheries and aquaculture sectors of each Member State.
Commissioner Damanaki participated on Wednesday afternoon at the meeting of the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee. She informed Members of the Committee of the strategic aquaculture guidelines adopted recently by the Commission with the aim to boost the growth of a sustainable European aquaculture industry.
She also reported on progress in the application of the trade instrument against countries involved in unsustainable fishing as well as responding to questions of Members of the committee on a wide variety of issues including next steps to unblock the institutional deadlock over management plans, the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and the state of play of international negotiations.
Regarding the negotiations between the EU and Morocco concerning the renewal of the protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement, it was agreed that the next round will take place on the 18th of July 2013 in Rabat, Morocco.
The Commission has proposed a total allowable catch (TAC) of 17,100 tonnes for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, corresponding to a reduction of fishing possibilities by 17%. This TAC concerns the current fishing season from July 1st 2013 to June 30th 2014.
The College of Commissioners has paid on Friday an official visit to Vilnius, Lithuania on the occasion of the official launch of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Commissioners met with the Lithuanian government as well as with the Lithuanian President, Mrs Dalia Grybauskaitė.
Commissioner Damanaki held a bilateral meeting with her Lithuanian counterpart, Minister Vigilijus Jukna in the framework of this official visit.
Commissioner Damanaki met with M. Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Commissioner Damanaki had a successful meeting with Vice-President and Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs M. Evangelos Venizelos. Minister Venizelos stated that the main priority of the upcoming Greek Presidency of the European Council during the first semester of 2014 will be Blue Growth and maritime policy.
Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Charalambos Simantonis, President of the Hellenic Short sea Ship-owners' Association in Athens.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Association to present some of the issues they would like to resolve, including the ones during the upcoming Greek Presidency of the European Council. They would like to see resolved, inter alia, issues concerning Pilot Exemption Certificates as well as a 'Blue Belt' proposal to facilitate maritime transport.
In return, Commissioner Damanaki informed the Association on the findings of the recent study on Exclusive Economic Zones in the Mediterranean under UNCLOS. She underlined the Blue Growth potential of the creation of these maritime zones, which remain an exclusive right of each coastal state. She then highlighted the importance for the Association to be actively involved in the organisation of the European Maritime Day 2015 in Piraeus Port.
CCAMLR meeting in Bremerhaven: a missed opportunity to protect important marine areas in the Antarctic
Commissioner Damanaki expressed her big disappointment that the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) Special meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, was unable to reach an agreement on the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). The meeting this week considered two MPA proposals – a proposal by Australia, France and the European Union for a network of MPAs in East Antarctica and another one by New Zealand-United States on the Ross Sea region. Together with other CCAMLR members the EU had been working very hard to prepare for this meeting and to ensure that CCAMLR would live up to its commitments made in 2009 to establish a representative network of MPAs by 2012.
Commissioner Damanaki stated: “It is a shame that the large support for the protection of these areas was blocked by a few. This is a step backwards and puts at stake the reputation of an organisation that has always been one of the frontrunners in the sustainable management of marine living resources. I do hope that this missed opportunity will be repaired soon”.
In the framework of the Citizens' Dialogue, Commissioner Damanaki held a debate on Friday with over 500 citizens in Heraklion, Greece. The island of Crete is a fitting location as it is the biggest island in Greece and one of the most popular destinations worldwide in the area of cruise tourism. Crete is also a significant player in regional cooperation for maritime policy.
On this occasion, Commissioner Damanaki stated: "I look forward to our dialogue with citizens in Crete. It's not very often that we get a chance to discuss openly at this level. Though, these opportunities are, more than ever, necessary today in the midst of the economic crisis. To regain trust in the European Union, we have to try to include everyone in the dialogue, by explaining citizens' rights and discussing with them how Europe can recover. Greece's immense potential for Blue Growth is one way towards this. As Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries I will discuss with them how together we can make the most out of our seas and coasts."
Commissioner Damanaki gave a press conference today further to the results of a study commissioned by the European Commission on the establishment of maritime zones in the Mediterranean, including Exclusive Economic Zones, and their positive impact on Blue growth in the region.
Read Commissioner Damanaki's press conference statement.
The Commission has adopted today the Blue Belt Communication aiming at improving competitiveness in the maritime sector and promoting Blue Growth.
Blue Belt creates a single transport area for shipping within the European Union where less administrative burden and delays aims at enhancing competitiveness. This will reduce costs for the EU ships transporting goods within the EU. They can operate freely in this area, in line with the EU internal market regulations, ensuring optimal administrative procedures, safety, environmental protection as well as customs and tax revenues. Enhancing the attractiveness of maritime transport brings two objectives totally in line with Blue Growth agenda: stimulation of employment and reduction of the environmental impact of transport.
The European Parliament has adopted yesterday the report on Blue Growth of MEP Spyros Danellis. The report expresses support for the Commission's Blue Growth initiative and encourages the Commission and Member States to further develop the different dimensions of Blue Growth.
The vote comes after Commissioner Damanaki participated to the presentation of the report monday evening at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Commissioner Damanaki has welcomed the report and stated: "I am pleased to see that this House recognises that Blue Growth is a set of forward-looking proposals with a realistic and coherent framework."