Presentation of the Common Fisheries Policy reform at the "Fish for the Future" campaign group
"Fish for the Future" campaign group
European Parliament, Strasbourg, 28 September 2011
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met the "Fish for the Future" campaign group in the European Parliament during the plenary session in Strasbourg, to discuss the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The Commission presented its proposals in July and they are now to be discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council
Good afternoon. I'm happy to see you all again here in Strasbourg and continue our ongoing discussion on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
You have heard from me in June how grim the state of our fish stocks and fisheries was. Let me assure you that the situation did not improve since June. However, the Commission took an important step since June: we tabled ambitious proposals for the reform our policy.
I think that at this point you must all be familiar with the proposals, so I won't inflict yet another general presentation on you. Let me just quickly summarise the key elements of our reform package:
• By 2015, each fish stock should be managed in a way that we can get maximum financial gain for fishermen while still keeping the stock sustainable. This is the concept of "Maximum Sustainable Yield".
• Discards should be banned. All catches should be landed and counted against quotas.
• Transferable fishing concessions should be introduced to help implement the discard ban and decrease fleet size by giving financial security to vessel owners who want to exit the market. There should be effective safeguards to protect small-scale vessels and to prevent excessive concentration.
• A prominent role should be given to seawater and freshwater aquaculture as alternatives to overfishing.
• Labelling provisions should allow consumers to take more informed purchasing choices.
• Regionalisation: political decisions on the direction of the policy should be taken by Parliament and Council, but technical decisions should be taken by the Member States and the fishing industry.
These measures will be complemented by funding from a new European Fisheries and Maritime Fund, proposed to be worth more than EUR 6 billion. The Commission will soon table its proposal which will clarify how this money can be used to support the objectives of the reform, for example, by supporting vulnerable players such as small-scale fleets.
What do we expect to get from the reform?
The benefits are clear.
This reform will give us a policy that can bring about development and economic success for our fisheries and aquaculture industry; for the people who work in those industries; and for the coastal and rural communities which depend on those industries.
In concrete terms: increased income for fishermen from bigger stocks, a revitalised and profitable fisheries sector and a boost to the development of sustainable aquaculture. It is not an exaggeration to say that instead of importing two-thirds of the fish consumed, the EU has the potential to cover its needs and have a good export grade.
This is a reform for the future, our future.
I must tell you that I am more and more convinced – in particular after my trip to the US earlier this month – that we are on the right track.
However, I also see that there is much convincing to do. Benefits must be explained. Misunderstandings must be clarified. False statements must be corrected. And we must always point out: what would be the alternative?
So, the adoption of these proposals was only the beginning. Now comes the brunt of the work: convincing the decision-makers, you and the national governments, that the proposed reform IS the right one.
The voices of the status quo, of unsustainability, have already appeared. Those who believe that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reform this policy must act now.
You in this room have a key role to play. Many of you have signed the written declaration calling for "a long-term, regionally sensitive, science-led approach" and for "policies that promote sustainability". I believe the Commission has answered this call with the reform proposals.
But this is not enough.
The success of the reform will depend on how well it is explained and advocated within this Parliament, within national administrations and to European citizens.
Your active help will therefore be instrumental to reaching our common objectives. You can help our common cause by talking to your fellow MEPs, the administrations that you know best or your national and local press.
I want to create grass-root support for this reform. Back home, in our countries, people are strongly concerned with the state of the environment; the marine environment is starting to raise a lot of interest.
So I know we can potentially get many people on board. And I know that your constructive support is crucial for this.
The message to convey is simple: we are acting before it's too late.
I invite you to join me for this challenge.
Now I'm ready for your questions.