The European Commission proposed today its annual fishing opportunities for 2014 for the Atlantic and the North Sea, including in international waters.
This annual exercise proposes the amount of fish which can be caught next year by EU fishermen from the main commercial fish stocks. The proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort both for stocks managed exclusively by the EU, and for stocks managed with third countries such as Norway or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations across the world's oceans. As international negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still on-going, the will be completed once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.
For the stocks not shared with third countries, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 36 stocks, and reduce them for 36 stocks, in line with the scientific advice.
Commissioner Damanaki stated on this occasion: "The Commission proposal contains good news for some stocks, while some cuts are required for others. Overall, our knowledge of many stocks has improved which enables sound management decisions to be made. For stocks where negotiations are on-going we will, as ever, make every effort to obtain the best outcome for our fishermen. We hope that our partners and the international community will mirror our commitment to sustainable fisheries."
The present proposal shall be discussed by the Member States' ministers at the December Fisheries Council and will apply from 1 January 2014.
The Commission has adopted a new Implementing Regulation allowing further period of adaptation for aquaculture farmers regarding the use of the word "organic" at national level, before the full application of EU rules.
When EU protection rules on the use of the wording "organic" were introduced in August 2009, a period of almost three years was set for older farms to make a full transition to the new EU rules. Following a request for a further transition period, the Commission has now decided to grant an extension of 18 months. During this period, farmers which produce under nationally approved rules rather than under EU rules will not be permitted to use the EU logo for organic products. This will allow consumers to distinguish between those who do and those who do not apply the EU rules in the period up to January 1st 2015, as of which full EU rules will apply.
The Commission welcomes the completion of negotiations on a new agreement between the European Union and Norway on reciprocal access to fishing in the waters of the Skagerrak. This agreement, which replaces a previous agreement from 1966 between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, will allow those countries to maintain reciprocal access for their vessels, thus maintaining continuity of their fishing operations in this area. Further joint work is underway on important selectivity measures in the Skagerrak area.
Commissioner Damanaki stated: “I welcome this good example of the improved cooperation between the European Union and Norway on fisheries in the Skagerrak. This agreement is of vital importance to fishermen from both Denmark and Sweden, as well as from Norway, who have traditionally conducted fisheries in this limited area.”
(Credit picture: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC)
A meeting of Coastal States on mackerel (European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway) took place in London on October 23 and 24, under the chairmanship of the European Union.
This coastal states meeting aimed at discussing the management measures for 2014 for the mackerel stock in the North-East Atlantic.
Commissioner Damanaki stated on this occasion: “I very much welcome the positive nature of these discussions and consider that, in view of the more optimistic scientific advice, there is now a window of opportunity for reaching agreement on resolving the long-standing dispute between the Parties on this very important fish stock.”
The European Parliament, sitting in plenary session in Strasbourg this week for the second plenary session of October, has voted on MEP Cadec's report on the EMFF and on MEP Patrao-Neves' report on Marine Knowledge 2020.
The Commission has welcomed the Parliament's vote on the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This vote is a crucial step to securing political agreement by the end of the year which would allow the fund to be in place as of January 2014.
The Commission is pleased to note that the European Parliament has rejected public aid to vessel construction and has set clear limits on the amounts of public funding Member States can spend on fleets.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the outcome of the vote: "I am pleased with the overall outcome of the vote. In particular, I welcome the decision to reject spending EU taxpayers' money on building new fishing vessels and to cap the amount of funds Member States can spend on fishing fleets. This will allow the EMFF to focus on funding projects which promote a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities. I also welcome that Parliament decided that all stakeholders should be able to benefit from support contributing to their participation in Advisory Councils".
As per MEP Patrao-Neves' report, the Commission welcomes the support of the Parliament of its efforts to ensure marine data is widely available in order to support the development of the "Blue Economy".
Commissioner Damanaki opened today the Fishlove exhibition in the Berlaymont in Brussels, in the presence of Greta Scacchi, Emmanuel de Brantes and Nicholas Röhl.
"Fishlove" is an on-going photographic project that invites global celebrities to raise awareness on how much unsustainable fishing practices are destroying the marine environment. The special exhibition has unveiled the new series of Fishlove photography by Denis Rouvre, the famous photographer. This new series features familiar faces of the world of entertainment such as Sir Ben Kinglsey (on the picture), Greta Scacchi, Lizzy Jagger, Jean-Marc Barr, Emmanuel de Brantes, Mélanie Laurent, Mélanie Bernier, Kenzo and Serge Hazanavicius among others.
The European Commission has launched today a public consultation on marine litter and is asking for opinions on how we can best address this problem. The Consultation will be opened until 18th December 2013 and you can find it here.
The seas and oceans are increasingly becoming the waste dump of the planet. Plastic waste forms 80 % of the enormous waste patches in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, with fatal consequences for numerous sea species.
The European Commission is exploring options to set an EU-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter, as called for in the recently-agreed 7th Environment Action Programme. The marine litter consultation is looking for additional input from citizens and stakeholders. Your views will help to identify the appropriate level of ambition for such a target.
The AGRIFISH Council ended up with positive results today in Luxembourg. The ministers reached a political agreement on fishing opportunities for 2014 for certain fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. This agreement lays down for 2014 the maximum quantities of fish from specific stocks that can be caught in the Baltic Sea.
On this occasion, Commissioner Damanaki stated: "I am very happy about the outcome of the Council today. At last our new Fisheries policy is giving us some good fruits. It is paying us back. Everybody has realised that we have a success story. First, about the sustainability of the stocks in the Baltic, as they are now almost all fished at sustainable level. Second, we have a success story referring to regionalisation. I would like to congratulate the Baltfish, all the Ministers and the presidency for their job. Baltfish gives a very good example to follow. It shows that regionalisation can work."
Then the Council had an exchange of views on upcoming EU-Norway annual consultations establishing the management arrangements for the jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea and Skagerrak. This includes the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities between EU and Norway and common approach in the negotiations between Coastal States about to begin on a mackerel sharing arrangement for 2014.
The ICCAT annual meeting, which will take place mid-November in South Africa, has also been discussed among Ministers.
The Council was also briefed on the recurring dispute between the Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the EU about the management of the North East Atlantic mackerel stock in view of the Coastal State negotiations which will take place this month.
About mackerel, Commissioner stated that: "We don't want a mackerel war, but we don't want an agreement at any price. If we all work together, an agreement can be possible."
In addition, the Council adopted today its position on two proposals for two regulations on the common fisheries policy (CFP) reform following an early second reading agreement with the European Parliament. The next step of the procedure is an approval of the texts by the European Parliament.
Commissioner Damanaki met in Athens today with Mr Stavros Kalafatis, the Greek Alternate Minister for Environment, Energy & Climate Change. This was an opportunity to discuss upcoming Greek EU Presidency and to exchange views on issues of marine spatial planning, maritime tourism, seabed mapping, diving and aquaculture farms.
The European Parliament has voted in favour of the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement today, with an important majority of 467 votes in favour.
Commissioner Damanaki commented this positive outcome: "The new Protocol ensures environmental sustainability and fairness , benefits the EU fishermen, and offers good value for money to EU taxpayers".
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met Arni Pall Arnasson, Chairman of the Icelandic Social Democratic Alliance today in Strasbourg. They exchanged views on the relations between the EU and Iceland in the area of fisheries.
Commissioner Damanaki participated on Monday evening, during the plenary session of the European Parliament, to a debate on EU-Mauritania Fisheries partnership agreement. MEP Mato presented his report on the FPA during the session, and the Parliament will have to vote on it on Tuesday.
Commissioner Damanaki will also participate later on Monday evening to the presentation of two other fisheries reports. MEP Fraga will present her report on a comprehensive EU fishery strategy in the Pacific and MEP Salavrakos will present his report on fisheries restrictions and jurisdictional waters in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
You can watch it live here as from 17:00.
Commissioner Damanaki presented the Joint Statement on Marine Protected Areas in Antarctica, which she co-signed with Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, John F. Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States.
On the occasion of the presentation of this Joint Statement, Commissioner Damanaki declared:
"Antarctica is one of the last pristine areas of our globe.
Still, its ecosystems are highly vulnerable – and our urgent action is required to protect them.
With this in mind, I am looking forward to the upcoming meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources ( CCAMLR) on the crucial issue of Marine Protected Areas in the waters around Antarctica.
Today I am making a political statement on behalf of the European Union jointly with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, Australian Minister Bishop, French Minister Fabius, and New Zealand Minister McCully.
Together, we call on the Members of CCAMLR to bring years of preparation to a successful conclusion by establishing these important Marine Protected Areas.
The establishment of such Marine Protected Areas is fully in line with the vision expressed by the World Community at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012.
At next week's meeting, in Hobart, Australia, the EU, France and Australia will put forward a proposal for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in East Antarctica. Meanwhile, the United States and New Zealand will present one for a Marine Protected Area in the Ross Sea.
The time has come to work together, constructively and with determination towards the adoption of these Marine Protected Areas through operational decisions".
Commissioner Damanaki met today in Athens with Mr Athanasios Tsaftaris, Greek Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development & Food in order to discuss upcoming priorities of their respective agendas for the upcoming Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Following the invitation of M. Vassilis Michaloliakos, Mayor of Piraeus, Commissioner Damanaki participated in a meeting together with Mr Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Minister of Maritime Trade, Mr Anomeritis, President of the OLP and Mr Lyras, Representative of the Union of Greek Shipowners. The meeting took place in order to coordinate the preparation of the European Maritime Day 2015 which will be held in the city of Piraeus.
Commissioner Damanaki called local and political officials to work on the organisation of the event with a focus on growth for the future, the maritime tradition of the city of Piraeus and its current development potential. Commissioner also recommended the creation, after the EMD 2015, of a maritime cluster in Piraeus to foster Blue Growth