European Parliament joint debate on Common Fisheries Policy, Common Markets Organisation, reporting obligations for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and Measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing

European Parliament
Strasbourg, 11 September 2012

Commissioner Maria Damanaki intervened in the joint plenary debate that the European Parliament held on four reports: on the Commission proposal on measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing for the purpose of the conservation of fish stocks (Gallagher-report), on the Common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products in the framework of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (Stevenson-report), on reporting obligations for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources (Haglund-report) and on the overarching Commission Communication presenting the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (Salavrakos-report). Watch the intervention


Mr President, Honourable Members,

First of all, I thank all rapporteurs (Mr Gallagher, Mr Stevenson, Mr Torvalds, as well as the former Member of this House, Mr Haglund, and Mr Salavrakos) for their work. Your reports all point into the same direction: more sustainable fishing inside and outside the EU.

Let me start with the report of Mr Salavrakos. I would like to welcome the call from this House to restore and maintain stocks above Maximum Sustainable Yield. A final and legally binding date has to be established in the Basic Regulation.

The report of Mr Salavrakos is also a good basis for an ambitious discard ban. Its call for a gradual elimination of discards will set the ground for the detailed measures in the Basic Regulation that would help to get rid of this wasteful practice. I certainly appreciate the many recommendations you put forward on how to do this.

Let me now move to Mr Haglund's report. I fully agree that long-term management plans should be the basis of our policy. The deadlock we are in creates business uncertainty and holds us all back. I urge you to continue working with us and the Council on this.

This deadlock is further proof that we cannot make the discard ban or reaching MSY conditional upon the adoption of long-term management plans. These objectives must be set out in a legally binding way in the Basic Regulation itself. I therefore urge you to support removing the link between the discard ban and long-term management plans in the Haglund-report.

Coming to the report of Mr Stevenson, I am satisfied that the report maintains the drive of our proposal. However, I would like to stress the key issue of labelling once more. We must make sure that consumers get clear and comprehensive information about the fish they buy. We have several ways to do that.

One: the date of catch is essential for consumers and it gives a competitive advantage to all small scale fishermen, but also to those that fish within 24 hours. The French Members of this House will be aware of the French law which actually has a category of fishermen that return to port within 24 hours. They fish in their region and land locally. This is good for jobs and good for consumers as they can buy fresh local products. Two: prepared and preserved products should show the fish name, origin and production method, just as fresh and frozen fish do. There is no reason why rules should differ for these categories.

Another issue is an EU ecolabel. I know that it is close to the heart of the rapporteur and a number of Members support it. This is why I can accept that by 1 January 2015 the Commission makes a report about this and, if the Commission considers it necessary, it will accompany this report by a proposal for such a label.

One final word on the trade instrument, a piece of legislation that will become a key tool of the common fisheries policy now and into the future, I'm sure.

The rationale is simple; unsustainable fishing is lucrative and will always be tempting for some. We simply cannot afford to let a few irresponsible people nullify our industry's efforts and our conservation work.

This instrument gives us the means to prevent that. It can create the confidence for a level playing between our fishermen and fishermen of other countries – non EU Member States – who share the same stocks with us. I know the devotion of this House for the creation of this level playing field referring to trade issues and this is why I congratulate Mr Gallagher for his work making it possible to adopt this instrument swiftly. The Commission is of course preparing for the use of the trade instrument but a lot of legal work still has to be done.

I thank you all again for your valuable contributions. It looks like we have set the course on real change, and I count on your support to make it happen.

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