Mr Aguiar Machado, Director General of the Directorate-General for Fisheries in the European Commission (DG MARE), met today with a delegation of fishing representatives from Europêche to discuss industry’s concerns relating to recent political and legislative developments at European and international level. Both Mr Machado and Europêche positively valued the good results in achieving sustainable fisheries, leading to healthier stocks and greater socio-economic benefits for the sector. However, the sector recalled the importance to adopt workable measures that can realistically be applied by the industry which has not been the case with the landing obligation. In addition, Europêche requested further efforts and diplomatic pressure for more fisheries agreements with 3rd countries which must be linked to trade and regional policies.
Europêche is writing to you with regards to the latest developments on the issue of the snow crab conflict in the Barents Sea, particularly in the Svalbard zone, between the EU and the Kingdom of Norway.
We are not satisfied with how the EU is handling the situation. Since the arrest of the Latvian crab fishing vessel Senator on 16 January 2017, the EU has not managed to move forward, not in the form of “informal talks” with Norway, nor in the form of formal actions that the EU could have taken in order to protect the legal rights of EU fishermen. At the same time, the EU fleet which consists of vessels flying flags of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Spain, has to bear huge financial losses, being tied up in port.
Mr Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, met yesterday with a Europêche delegation representing the long distance fishing fleet in Europe. Both Commissioner Vella and Europêche valued positively the major improvements made in the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which positions the EU distant-water fishing fleets at the forefront of the world's sustainable fisheries. The sector recalled the importance of adopting more fisheries agreements with 3rd countries which must be linked to trade and regional policies. Europêche requested further diplomatic pressure on Norway on the issue of snow crabbing and other important fish stocks in the Barents Sea and Svalbard waters.
Since 2013, EU vessels have been authorised to fish for snow crab in the Barents Sea and Svalbard waters. Even though these vessels carry a valid fishing license, a few were arrested by the Norwegian authorities, who refuse to recognise the legitimate right of EU vessels to sustainably and legally operate in this area. To date, 19 large boats from several EU countries remain tied up in port out of fear of being arrested. A recent Norwegian court ruling has declared Norwegian restrictions illegitimate and contrary to the international obligations undertaken by Norway.