Seas and oceans are essential to human life in more ways than one might think. Since well before recorded history, humans have used the sea as a source of food, but a shift is occurring in modern times. Governments and new emerging industries are gradually looking at the seas as a source of minerals and energy, leading to a rough competition over maritime space. Namely, one of the human activities steadily growing its presence at sea is offshore wind farming, particularly in the North, Irish and Baltic seas. The fishing sector argues that this process is being developed without a careful analysis of the vast ecological and economic impact of such a use. In this ‘battle’, the fishing industry is losing valuable fishing grounds and access to healthy stocks. Europêche claims that EU’s climate and energy objectives are favoured, but not for the honourable reasons; why else putting the marine environment at risk and possibly changing the ecosystem faster than climate change could ever do?
The newly elected chair of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries (PECH) Chris Davies (Renew Europe, UK), the Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), João Aguiar Machado, and DG MARE Director, Veronika Veits, were guests of honour at this week's Europêche General Assembly meeting to discuss the many pressing issues facing the fishing sector today.
The European Commission has launched its annual consultation on the state of fish stocks and the preparation for setting fish quotas for next year marked by the objective to fish all stocks at maximum sustainable yield (MSY1) levels by 2020. The good news is that most of the stocks in the North East Atlantic have already reached this target. However, and despite generalised fishing effort reductions, some fish populations are struggling to rebuild or even to remain at current level. The answer may be found in the latest scientific advices which revealed major challenges in some fisheries caused by the destabilizing effect of the full introduction of the landing obligation and environmental factors such as climate change. The European fishing industry represented by Europêche expresses once again its concern over the stated aim to have all stocks at biomass levels that can produce Maximum Sustainable Yields will prove to be counterproductive, since the production capacity of our sea bas
In the early hours, the Fisheries Council reached an agreement on the catch limits for 2019; just two weeks before the latest and toughest phase of the landing obligation comes into effect. Following a fairly conservationist proposal from the European Commission (EC), which proposed for certain stocks even lower levels of quota than recommended by scientists, Ministers adopted a better-balanced decision that will allow to catch more fish while respecting the sustainability of the stocks in the long term. The positive results yielded, thanks to the sacrifices made by the industry over the past decade, may be however compromised by the quick fixes and patches adopted to try to implement an ill-conceived landing obligation for the complexities of the European waters.
The anti-pulse lobby peaked this week in Brussels with their misleading campaign in light of the crucial vote on a new regulation for the conservation of fishery resources that will take place on 16 January 2018. The European fishing industry believes that this is the umpteenth attempt to demonize an innovative fishing method. Radical NGOs are trying to sabotage the difficult compromise reached in the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament back in November that represented a democratic, reasonable and sustainable solution. Europêche urges the European Parliament Plenary to respect this compromise in order to allow innovation and the development of new sustainable fishing techniques which is the sole way the sector can adapt to new legislative scenarios such as the landing obligation.
Today, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have reached a political agreement on the European Commission proposal establishing a multi-annual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea, the second of its kind. Europêche welcomes the final adoption of this legislative proposal which, in the context of regionalisation, will bring decision-making closer to Member States and fishermen through the adoption of joint recommendations. However, many questions such as the implementation of landing obligation and negotiations with third countries still remain open and unclear.
Yesterday, 12th July 2017, the European Parliament (EP) Committee on Fisheries adopted its position on the European Commission proposal establishing a multi-annual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea. Europêche welcomes the decisive step forward towards the final adoption of this legislative proposal which, in the context of regionalisation, will bring decision-making closer to fishers operating in this area. However, certain measures adopted by the EP, such as the introduction of multiannual fishing quotas for certain stocks, would pose a threat to the implementation of the landing obligation and therefore would fail to tackle the complexities of mixed fisheries.
The European Commission (EC) has launched its annual consultation on setting fishing opportunities for 2018. As a novelty, this year it is being accompanied by a Communication which, besides setting the traditional principles underpinning the EC 's proposal for Atlantic and North Sea fish quotas (TACs) in 2018, it gives an overview on the progress made towards the achievement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) objectives. Europêche is very pleased with this new approach since it provides European citizens with objective information in a digestible manner. The sector also welcomes the upward trends in many fish stocks and sustainable exploitation levels across Europe as revealed by the latest scientific data .
The European Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has recently published its annual report on the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as regards the progress on the situation of the fish stocks and exploitation levels. Decades of self-sacrifice is returning our fisheries to greatness, since the report clearly shows that stocks status is significantly improving. It also reflects an overall downward trend in the fishing pressure. However, additional efforts are still needed, particularly in the Mediterranean.
In the early hours, after two-day intensive negotiations, the Fisheries Council has reached an agreement over the fishing opportunities for 2017 based on the objective of achieving maximum sustainable yields (MSYs) by 2017 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest, while taking into consideration duly justified socio-economic factors.
It is disappointing that your response fails to address the issues that we have raised. We drew attention to the startling divergence between the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) view and Pew's claims about fishing pressure and the state of the stocks off North Western Europe.