Regions speak out on future of fisheries

02 Feb 2012

A seminar was held at the European Parliament on 1 February entitled “The Future of the European Fisheries Sector”, organised by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and the MAREMED project.

The event brought together MEPs, regional authorities and the European fishing industry to look at the new prospects for EU action in fisheries and aquaculture in relation to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy after 2012

“After the Commission’s proposal, the issue is now in the hands of Parliament, which I remind you has the power of co-decision in this policy area. We will be trying to change this reform, which I personally do not agree with, especially on the issue of transferable quotas which would have the effect of draining territories of their activity and jobs”, stated Alain Cadec, Vice-President of the EP Fisheries Committee.

DG MARE of the European Commission, represented by Lowri Evans, Director General, and Ernesto Peñas Lado, Director for Policy Development and Coordination, spoke of “urgent structural reforms” for the fishing industry “since the current system does not favour sustainability.” In the opening session, Lowri Evans recalled that “we import 2/3 of the fish we eat” and that “23% of discards is too high a figure”. She said she was open to the Regions, stating that “our intention is not to legislate from Brussels, but to involve fishermen from the industry”.

From the point of view of the regions, CPMR regrets that the Commission’s proposals on the future Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) fail to provide satisfactory responses to real multi-level governance, given that the Regions are fully involved in developing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors while also managing responsibility for economic development and regional planning.

Isabelle Thomas, Vice-President of Brittany Regional Council (FR) in charge of maritime affairs and coastal protection asked the Commission for “a state of play of fish stocks before making any decisions” and coming back to the problem of quotas said, “If quotas become a market, then there will be the risk of speculation and instability: concentration will favour big companies against small ones, with major consequences for jobs”.

Mireille Peirano, Vice-President responsible for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Coastline of Provence Alpes-Côte d’Azur (FR), lead Region of the MAREMED project, focused in particular on the Mediterranean. Addressing her comments to the Commission, she qualified as “regrettable the failure to give small-scale coastal fishing specific attention, given that it provides the biggest opportunity for jobs and economic activities in our regions, and that it is a cultural heritage that often is part of their identity and attractiveness.”

Finally, Sara Giannini, Regional Minister for Fisheries of Marche Region (IT) spoke about the financial aspects: “While we support an ambitious Integrated Maritime Policy, the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) should not assimilate funding already earmarked for fisheries, but rather create synergies between the two policy areas.”

Participants attending the discussions included various national industry representatives, such as the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA) and the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) who took part in the discussions. From the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson (ECR-UK), Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE-IRL), Ulrike Rodust (S&D) and Guido Milana also made contributions.

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