What does this mean in practice? According to a statement by the Dutch government in December, priority should be given to two points: concluding agreements on multiannual plans for sustainable fish stock management and expanding the landing obligation to prevent food waste.
A multiannual Baltic plan on cod, herring and sprat is currently in the works - the first of its kind under the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy. After its adoption the Commission will propose a new North Sea mixed fishery plan in order to support the implementation of the landing obligation, which is gradually being rolled out across the EU.
These issues must be seen in both the European and the wider global context, the Foreign Minister stressed: clean oceans are essential for global food security. The Netherlands therefore wishes to use its Presidency to take steps in the areas of Blue Growth and food security, he said.
Other issues on the fisheries agenda include the revision of the Data Collection Regulation, reviewing the approach to technical measures, the revision of the Fishing Authorisations Regulation, and achieving progress on the deep sea access regime.
On maritime issues, international ocean governance will undoubtedly continue to play a prominent role, following the European Commission's public consultation that closed in October 2015.
Fisheries and the blue economy are vital to the Dutch and European economies. According to figures provided by the Netherlands, the direct and indirect value of the Dutch blue economy was worth almost €49 billion, worth 3% of the Dutch GDP. In 2013, 224 000 people were employed in the Dutch blue economy, or 2.5% of total employment in the Netherlands. Most employment is based in Rotterdam, Europe’s main port.
Slovakia will take over the EU Presidency from the Netherlands on 1 July 2016.