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INSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable Fish

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Conference on the Reform of the CFP, La Coruna, 2-3 May 2010

Press release - 4/05/2010

On May 2 and 3 over 230 people with an interest in fisheries (from Member State administrations, RAC's and ACFA, industry, NGO's, members of the European Parliament or representatives of the main EU institutions) gathered in La Coruna, Spain, to take part in a broad stakeholders’ conference discussing some of the main pillars of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Conference, which was co-hosted by the Spanish Presidency of the Council and the Commission, was held just before the informal Council of Ministers for a reason: by probing into the views and orientations of the sector, the Conference reflection will directly feed the Ministers’ discussion.

The wide public consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policies opened by the European Commission in 2009 revealed a broad consensus on the need for reform and on the need for the reform to be based on the principles of ecological sustainability, long-term approach and maximum sustainable yields. It is also universally agreed that the new fisheries policy should pay the greatest attention to social considerations and that a regionalisation and generally a decentralisation of powers should be pursued.

To get there, however, further dialogue is needed. The Green Paper presented a set of problems but remained deliberately open as to the avenues that might be taken to tackle them. The time has now come to start exploring those avenues. The stakeholders Conference in La Coruna on May 2 and 3 brought forward the consultation process by addressing some specific aspects with all the interested parties.

The Conference focussed on three main issues in three parallel workshops:

•        Governance (the decision making-process, regionalisation, the role of regional bodies, dialogue with stakeholders, industry responsibility, social dialogue);

•        The management of resources (access to waters and resources, tools of management, Individual Tradable Rights) and

•        Small-scale coastal fleets (their socio-economic importance, criteria for their definition, possible specific measures).

In all of these, lively discussions took place and some points of consensus emerged, together with some new ideas. A summary of the debates will shortly be available online.

It is worth mentioning here that, with regard to small-scale coastal fleets, the Commission has already revealed its general stance, as it believes that a special regime for small-scale coastal fleets can be justified by a series of considerations. Generally speaking, the activity of smaller vessels is more sustainable from an environmental viewpoint, as their passive gear is usually more selective and thus has lower impact on the marine environment; they are generally more fuel-efficient, as they operate closer to the coast; they are more labour-intensive, and theyoften obtain a higherpriceperkg of catch, thereby sustaining local employment and wealth.  

Of course these operators contribute to resource exploitation and should therefore be subject to the same conservation measures as everybody else such as catch limitation, effort limitations and any appropriate technical measure.

On governance, the Commission called for the establishment of regional bodies in which civil society, NGOs, scientists, operators and administrations can keep an ongoing dialogue. The Commission’s idea is to grant these bodies the highest possible powers within the limits of the Treaty’s provisions.

It should be noted that the Conference in La Coruna did not have the ambition to reach a clear-cut consensus or a set of definite conclusions, but rather let the participants express their views in a constructive exchange.

For the Commission, this is still a fundamental phase of the reform, in which the debate leads to cross-fertilization and produces options, alternatives and ideas. This phase will go on until the end of the year, and in 2011 the Commission will sum it all up and produce a legislative proposal to negotiate with the Council and Parliament.

In La Coruna, anyway, this open approach has already borne fruit: it gave the organisers (the Commission and the Spanish Presidency) an insight of the general orientations of each party and of the most controversial issues, and an overview of the directions that the debate should take in the coming months.

At the Informal Council of Fisheries Ministers in Vigo, Commissioner Maria Damanaki will present this overview and will ask the Member States’ Ministers to express their governments’ views on each of the topics addressed so far.

Further information is available at :

Conference on the future reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy