Today the Commission adopted a Regulation providing for a reduction of the annual salmon quota allocated to Poland in order to recover salmon quota overfished by Polish fishermen in 2012. The overfishing was established by the Commission in close co-operation with the Polish control authorities. During the last five years Poland significantly improved its fisheries control system, increased its general control capacity and started to remedy remaining gaps in its fisheries legislation.
The overfishing is linked to a problem of misreporting salmon catches as sea trout – a closely related species for which there is no EU annual quota in the Baltic Sea. The different MS concerned, including Poland, agreed in recent years to increase salmon fisheries control.
Commissioner Damanaki participated on Thursday November 28th, together with Commissioner Barnier, in a Round Table on the Entrepreneurship in the EU and the challenges to be tackled by the European Commission, in Athens. This Round Table was an opportunity to exchange views on the challenges of enterprises in Greece and the actions taken by the Commission.
Commissioner Damanaki met in Brussels with Mr Jose Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Discussions covered cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, as well as a specific focus on the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, cooperation in the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and specific programmes and regional projects.
Commissioner Damanaki met today with members of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee. Commissioner welcomed the Committee’s vote earlier today supporting the conclusion of the Protocol to the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, informed the Committee of the Commission’s priorities for the next semester and exchanged views with members of the Committee on the management of herring and mackerel stocks in the North-East Atlantic.
The European Commission has today presented its proposal for fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2014. Only two Member states, namely Bulgaria and Romania, are concerned by the proposals. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and to keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged at 11,475 tonnes. The EU quota for turbot is divided evenly between the two Member States whilst for sprat Bulgaria and Romania's national quotas are set respectively at 70% and 30 % of the total EU quota.
The proposal takes into consideration the advice by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and will be discussed by EU member states Ministers at the December Fisheries Council. On behalf of the EU, the Commission is promoting the adoption of management measures for the Black Sea in the framework of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). This year a set of technical measures affecting the turbot fishery have been adopted whilst the GFCM will also test in 2014 the feasibility of establishing management plans in the region.
Watch Commissioner's recorded press conference here.
Commissioner Damanaki held a press conference today as the European Commission intensifies its fight against illegal fishing. It has identified Belize, Cambodia and Guinea as non-cooperating third countries in this regard. Despite the Commission's close work with the countries' authorities to set up fisheries management and effective control measures, these three countries have still not addressed structural problems and have failed to show real commitment to tackling the problem of illegal fishing.
The Commission also handed out today formal warnings – 'yellow cards' - to Korea, Ghana and Curaçao, as they fail to keep up with international obligations to fight illegal fishing. These yellow cards will not, at this stage, entail any measures affecting trade. Instead the EU will, as was the case for the previously listed countries, work closely with the countries, through formalised dialogue and intensified cooperation, to resolve the identified issues and implement the necessary action plan.
Commissioner Damanaki, said: "These decisions show our steadfast commitment to tackling illegal fishing. The EU market is negatively affected as are local and EU fishermen. We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fuelling the supply chain of illegal fishing be it as a coastal state, flag state, or flag of convenience. West Africa was identified as a major source of illegal fishing and my intention is now take the same thorough approach in the Pacific."
Find the European Commission press release here.
Today is the final day of the Annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), taking place in Cape Town. Commissioner Damanaki addressed the plenary and reemphasized the importance for ICCAT to continue to manage fish stocks in a way that allows for sustainable yield for fishermen and ensures a stable flow of products to the markets. You can read her speech here.
Discussions on the Eastern Bluefin Tuna TAC are well underway. The EU position is clear: the precautionary approach should prevail until new advice is available on the state of the stocks. Therefore, the EU supports the Scientific Committee's call for stability in the management of the stocks, including maintaining of the TAC, to allow for better assessments with fewer uncertainties in the future.
Next to its efforts for the recovery of Bluefin tuna, the EU continues to push for the protection of vulnerable shark species and will therefore work with the other Contracting Parties to support ICCAT measures which ban shark finning and are in line with the EU rules adopted recently.
Informal consultations have been held this week in New-York on the draft United Nations General Assembly resolution on sustainable fisheries. Following an EU initiative and active collaboration with our partners, significant progress was made in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU). Basic principles and new tools have been agreed such as the need to work on catch documentation schemes, the need for States to consider rules on chartering and the recognition of participatory surveillance as a tool to enhance the sustainability of resources.
Commissioner Damanaki stated on this occasion: "These positive outcomes during the United Nations General Assembly create a new momentum to tackle illegal fishing in the world. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing is a global problem undermining the conservation and the sustainable use of marine resources. The EU is and will remain at the forefront of international efforts to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing."
In the margins of the ICCAT meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Kouassi Kobenan Adjoumani, Minister in charge of Fisheries of the Ivory Coast. This meeting has been the occasion to discuss Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fisheries (IUU among other topics, as well as the priorities of the ICCAT Annual Meeting, such as the promotion of sustainable exploitation of the stocks and further improvements in the management and the conservation of the sharks.
The European Parliament gathered in plenary session in Strasbourg, gave today its consent to the new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Kiribati.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the vote by saying that "the agreement with Kiribati reconfirms our commitment to sustainability in our international agreements and is fully consistent with the principles of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The agreement ensures the EU fleet's presence in the Pacific Ocean and enhances the EU's position in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, while helping to foster co-operation in the Pacific region."
Consistent with the EU's policy to promote sustainability, good governance and the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in its Fisheries Partnership Agreements, the Protocol will help develop Kiribati's local economy and promote the sustainable long term development of its fisheries sector. It will ensure that the local fisheries resources are exploited at a responsible and sustainable level in particular by calculating fishing opportunities for the EU fleet on the basis of scientific advice.
Commissioner Damanaki is visiting South Africa from 19th to 21st November ahead of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting taking place from 18th to 25th November in Cape Town, South Africa.
Commissioner Damanaki commented on this upcoming visit by saying: "The fishing sector has made significant and painful sacrifices over the past years to allow Bluefin tuna to recover. The excellent news is that these efforts have started to bear fruit and ICCAT has played a leading role in these green shoots of recovery. However, much work remains to be done and we must all maintain our efforts to keep up the momentum".
Commissioner Damanaki met in Brussels with Icelandic Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, also Minister in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources, Mr Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson.
Following overfishing of mackerels in 2011 and 2012 and the depletion of the stock, discussions have been held on the developments of the mackerel issue in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Negotiations towards a resolution of the mackerel issue are still on-going.
Delegations from the European Union and the Seychelles have successfully initialled today a Fishery Access Agreement in Victoria, Seychelles. This agreement will allow flagged vessels from Seychelles to continue their fishing operations in the waters of Mayotte. These waters will become EU waters when Mayotte becomes an outermost region of the EU on January 1st 2014.
The agreement is welcomed by both parties as it further strengthens the strategic relationship shared by the EU and the Seychelles in the region. Also, it will further bolster the cooperation and joint efforts to maintain and expand general fishery governance based on the highest standards of sustainability, transparency, control and monitoring of the respective fleets – principles consistent with those of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
The Greek Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Tsaftaris, announced today that a Joint Ministerial Decision was signed, after a two-year delay, for the implementation of the National Programme on collection and submission of fisheries data to the EU.
Commissioner Damanaki commented on this development: "I was informed today with great pleasure about the announcement of the Greek Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries for the signature of a Joint Ministerial Decision, after a delay of almost two years, on the collection and submission of yearly data on fisheries for Greece at the responsible European Commission authorities, DG MARE. Today's positive development will allow the country to resolve an obligation that was outstanding for years, to unblock the relevant programmes for 2013 and to be able to disburse funds of 1.8 million euros from the European Fisheries Fund. Instead, unfortunately due to the absence of a timely collection and submission of fisheries data, the country lost from 2009-2012 a total of 8.777.000 euros from European funds and risked large amounts of fines from the Court of Justice.
I hope and wish that from now on, Greece will be consistent with its obligations, like other European countries which have established the collection and submission of data on a yearly basis, so that it can take advantage of the relevant opportunities offered by the European Commission and the European Union."
Commissioner Damanaki met today with the Cypriot Minister of Agriculture Mr Kouyialis, during his visit to Brussels. discussions focused on current issues of Fisheries and Maritime affairs in the Mediterranean, such as Blue Growth initiatives, as well as the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The meeting was also the occasion to discuss financial aspects such as the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and its funding possibilities.
Commissioner Damanaki ended her official visit to Norway with a dinner offered by Norwegian Minister of Fisheries, Elisabeth Aspaker. Minister Aspaker took officein mid-October and this visit presented a chance to discuss current EU-Norway issues on fisheries as well as EU-Norway relations. Commissioner Damanaki also met with the Norwegian Minister of EEA and European Affairs, Vidar Helgesen and discussed the importance of EU-Norway relations.
Mr Vidar Helgesen, Norwegian Minister for EU Affairs, welcomed Commissioner Damanaki in Oslo. The Commissioner raised during her meeting with Minister Helgesen, the importance of EU - Norway relations as Norway is a major fish supplier to the EU. She also highlighted the good position of Norway, with its vast experience in seabed mapping and underwater technology, in benefiting from the new Blue Economy. Norwegian research and innovation may also benefit from and contribute to the development of a sustainable aquaculture industry.
Commissioner Damanaki, during her visit to Oslo, met with the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Ms Elisabeth Aspaker. The meeting addressed several issues important to EU-Norway relations such as the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, the UN General Assembly Resolution on Sustainable Fisheries and marine biodiversity.
On her second day of visit Commissioner Damanaki met with Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Edi Rama. Discussions focused on Albania's candidate status to European Union's membership and on current issues related to fisheries and maritime policy as well.
Commissioner also held further meetings with Mr Edmond Haxhinasto, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Mr Edmond Panariti, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration, and Mr Ilir Meta, Speaker of Parliament.
During her first day of visit Commissioner Damanaki met with Mr Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in order to discuss the recommendation to grant candidate status to Albania and the potential next steps.
Commissioner Damanaki also encountered the Albanian Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Ms Eglantina Gjermeni, and discussed Blue Growth as well as the role and potentials of coastal tourism. She further participated in a roundtable with representatives from the local fisheries and processing sectors, as well as coastguards, where she highlighted the importance of seas and coasts as a driver for growth.
On the second day of her official visit, Commissioner held further meetings with Mr Edmond Haxhinasto, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Mr Edmond Panariti, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Water Administration, and Mr Ilir Meta, Speaker of Parliament.
Commissioner Damanaki met in Brussels with Mr Petar Ivanovic, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro, also responsible for Fisheries.
Discussions were fruitfully held on the Fisheries chapter of the accession negotiations of Montenegro to the EU, as well as on the challenges of the Adriatic and Ionian sea basins and on cooperation within GFCM.
Today a delegation of the Portuguese government, led by Prime Minister Passos Coelho, met for the first time the College of the European Commission. Discussions focused on the Portuguese adjustment programme and the deepening of the European Monetary Union, as foundations for confidence and growth in Portugal and in the EU.
Commissioner Damanaki expressed her disappointment over the failure of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to reach an agreement on the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in Antarctica during its 23rd Annual Meeting held in Hobart, Australia, from 23rd October to 1st November.
Commissioner Damanaki expressed her discontent by stating that: "The adoption of these Marine Protected Areas would have been a bold and important step for marine protection in CCAMLR and globally. This is another missed opportunity for CCAMLR to fulfil its own objective to establish a network of MPAs. We will continue to support the establishment of these MPAs and hope that CCAMLR can continue to be a leading force in marine conservation."
The EU had submitted, together with Australia and France (on behalf of its overseas territories), a proposal for the establishment of an East Antarctica Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. Despite the presentation to CCAMLR members for the third time, consensus between the parties could still not be reached.