On behalf of the European Union, I would like to congratulate the Member States of the African Union, the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and the AU-IBAR (Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources) for all the work on the Pan-African Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy framework and Reform Strategy.
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture could play a more important role in national economic development, food and nutrition security all over the world. These sectors need appropriate political and financial attention – more attention than in the past.
The European Union is happy to support the implementation of the Pan-African Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy Framework and Reform Strategy with a contribution of 11 million € to Africa.
This programme will complement the action of the European Union at the regional and national level.
During the period 2007-2013, the European Union has already financed several programmes in Africa for a total of some 126 million €. And fisheries and aquaculture have been identified by the EU as a potential priority for future regional multi-annual programming for the period 2014-2020. The prioritisation depends on your decisions at home. The door is open in Brussels. We are keen to engage with African Regional Economic Communities to develop programmes and projects to address the needs of African countries and unlock the full potential of fisheries and aquaculture for food security, nutrition, livelihoods and wealth creation.
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At the time when the African Union is adopting its Pan-African Strategy, I thank you for inviting me to share the EU experience of recent fisheries reform.
This is an important year for European fisheries policy. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy is entering into force after 5 years of analyses, proposals and negotiations. We are now in the implementation phase of a radical and necessary change of approach.
We are coming from a rather sub-optimal environmental and economic starting point where many – even most in some areas - of our fish stocks were overfished, and many fishing communities were facing decline. We know we will have far more fish to fish if the stocks are managed properly.
We are now implementing a new policy that is sustainable and is science based.
There is already progress. In five years we have tripled the healthy stocks from 9 to 27. This policy change brings more fish and more money for our fishermen, fish farmers, and their families.
We are working with the EU Member States to bring all our stocks into a healthy and sustainable state by 2020 at the latest.
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The EU has decided to follow the same principles for its internal and its external action. Consistency in our external action is fundamental. We have vessels present in all oceans, we consume some 25 % of the world fisheries resources in terms of value and we import around two thirds of the fish we eat (much of it from aquaculture – like you, we want to substantially improve our domestic aquaculture production).
Long term sustainability of fish supply won’t happen by itself. Business as usual is not an option. It calls for responsible action. Action at the global level within the fora of the United Nations, at the multilateral level of regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and at the bilateral level with our key partners. For the EU, it also calls for coherence between the different EU policies that affect international fisheries, notably the EU’s environment, development and trade policies.
The EU is committed to the sustainable exploitation, management and conservation of marine resources and environment worldwide, based on an ecosystem and precautionary approach. This means working to maintain or restore stocks at maximum sustainable yield (MSY), putting in place conservation measures based on scientific advice, eliminating destructive fishing practices and protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems.
And it means we want to eradicate illegal fishing.
At international level, these are also goals that have been subscribed to in Rio +20 in the document “The future we want”. The EU is engaged in the UN and FAO on several fronts to make the general international objective a more concrete reality. One of the key issues that needs to progress is the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). We agree on the need for an effective implementing agreement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And at the latest meeting of the UN Working Group, a large number of UN Member States, including African countries, supported such an agreement. Let’s work together for that agreement.
Let’s also have a look at our work in regional fisheries management organisations. The EU participates in almost all RFMOs. Not all RFMOs are equally effective. We will continue to work and collaborate to improve RFMO performance – looking for high standards and promoting better science, better compliance and overall better governance.
We know from our domestic EU experience, and from the experience of the best RFMOs that better data and science are the cornerstones for sound and efficient management decisions and thus for better conservation of resources. And without compliance the best rules are useless. To be effective, compliance assessments need to be backed-up by sanctions and capacity building.
As part of its policy reform, the EU has put in place a legal requirement for itself that our bilateral fisheries agreements must be sustainable. These agreements are a tool to help promote long-term resource conservation, good governance and the sustainable development of our partners’ fisheries sector.
There must now be better assessment of fishing possibilities based on improved scientific knowledge. Our main concern is to fish sustainable fish and only the surplus. We control the amounts fished. We make sure that we do not harm the local fleet, in particular the small fishermen.
Governance of fisheries partnership agreements is also being strengthened and the overall reference price offered to third countries has been increased.
The new agreements also include sector support designed to help build the scientific, administrative and technical capacity of local partners for the sustainable development of their fisheries. We need to make sure in the future that our partners’ needs here are also addressed through the development policy tools. As I said before, the door is open for this.
Combating Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major challenge. IUU fishing has enormous negative impacts, including depleting fish stocks, destroying marine habitats, threatening food security, and distorting competition. It puts honest fishermen at an unfair disadvantage and it undermines the economic potential of coastal communities, particularly in developing countries.
The EU has been in dialogue with more than 30 countries so far to help address the underlying problems that lead to or tolerate IUU fishing. Through this cooperation, several countries have made fundamental changes in their fisheries management policies to fight IUU.
These measures have significantly improved the sustainability of resources.
We are optimistic that more countries are now working with more urgency to introduce the necessary – and real – changes in their systems also.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and its external dimension, emphasising sustainability of the stocks, allows for enhanced partnership between the EU and African coastal states.
We share the same values and goals. We are ready to work with you, fulfilling the objectives set out in the EU-Africa summit declaration and its Roadmap 2014-2020.
Working in partnership, we can be really effective. Thank you.