After two decades of dialogue, trade ministers from 164 countries broke today a last-minute deal on fisheries subsidies. Despite India's blocking pressures, which threatened to derail the multilateral agreement, WTO managed to sign a historic treaty to curb harmful fisheries subsidies. Europêche welcomes the introduction of fishing disciplines globally, similarly to what was done in the EU in the early 2000’s. The sector appreciates the decision of WTO not to extend the scope of the disciplines to cover non-specific fuel subsidies. However, the fleet considers the section that refers to fishing in the high seas to be very negative, since it is going to cause seriously harm in part of the EU long-distance fleet that operates in the Southwest Atlantic.
Europêche, the leading trade body representing the fishing industry in Europe, strengthens its team to boost the organisation’s support for sustainable tuna fishing and to promote the voice of the sector in wider EU and international decision making. Newly founded Europêche’s tuna group will advocate the interests of the EU and associated tuna freezer purse-seine fleet to enhance business competitiveness, improve the image of the sector, contribute to sustainable ocean governance, support the fight against IUU and labour abuse, and achieve an international level playing field.
WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies are now entering the final stage. After two decades of dialogue, trade ministers from 164 countries are resolved to secure an agreement ahead of the ministerial conference of 15 July this year. The European fishing industry represented by Europêche fully sustains the need to curb harmful subsidies globally, similarly to what has been done in the EU in the early 2000’s. In this direction, the fishing sector calls on EU institutions and Member states to defend the public aid system established under EU legislation, including the newly adopted Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFAF). Likewise, the sector urges the EU not to succumb to external pressure and defend fuel tax relief schemes. The opposite will drive the fleet to ruin.
European authorities have set a steady course to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Zero-pollution, preservation of biodiversity as well as healthy and environmentally friendly food systems are some of the priorities that will influence all EU polices in the upcoming years. The European fishing industry has taken a front-runner position, confirming a remarkable cut of its greenhouse gas emissions over the last 30 years while producing the perfect protein for our diets. Europêche seeks now a new narrative that recognises the sector as part of the solution to global environmental threats. Europêche is ready to challenge some of the myths surrounding the fishing industry and show the hard work of fishers that goes into putting sustainable seafood on our plates, reminding that EU-produced wild fish is the healthiest and lowest carbon footprint choice to feed the world and combat climate change.
The title perfectly summarises the message unanimously given by governments during the Ministerial Conference on Fishing Vessel Safety and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, organized by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Government of Spain in Torremolinos this week. The Conference aims to promote the widespread adoption of the Cape Town Agreement (CTA), a key IMO treaty for safety of fishing vessels, which so far has not entered into force due to low ratification levels1. Thanks to the recent accession of Spain and the boost provided by the Conference, nearly 50 countries signed a Declaration to enhance safety at sea by promoting the entry into force of the CTA and combating IUU fishing.
As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been given a prominent role to regulate and discipline global fisheries subsidies. The main goal is to eliminate IUU1 subsidies and prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by 2020. In order to speed up the complex intergovernmental negotiations, a High Level Event on Trade, Climate Change and Oceans Economy took place in Geneva this week, where Europêche presented the huge progress made in Europe, to eliminate harmful subsidies and secure the sustainable and responsible management of fisheries resources.
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.
A new report from the UN expert group on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has found that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history with many species facing extinction at accelerating rates. According to the report, the oceans are no exception to this trend caused by changes in sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. The European fishing industry, while acknowledging the potential risks for the marine environment, stresses that fishing poses no threat for the long-term preservation of marine resources. Proof of that is that thanks to fisheries management and industry-led efforts, fish stocks have been generally increasing in many areas such as the North East Atlantic, currently reaching levels 36% higher than in 2003. This positive trend shows that UN’s extinction warning particularly for fish populations is a bit far-fetched.
The Secretary General of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca), Javier Garat, has been re-elected as President of the European Fisheries Association, Europêche. The election was unanimously agreed upon by the members of Europêche during the General Assembly held yesterday in Brussels. The Dutch representative, Gerard van Balsfoort, President of the Pelagic Freezer-Trawlers Association (PFA), and the French delegate, Marc Ghiglia, Chief Executive of the United Fishing-Vessel Owners’ Organisation of France (UAPF) have also been re-elected as vice-presidents. Europêche, the foremost trade body representing the fishing industry in Europe, continues relying on the expertise of the managing team to positively contribute and address the many challenges ahead faced by the European fishing sector.
This week, the Council adopted a regulation setting autonomous EU tariff quotas (ATQs) for certain fishery products for the years 2019 and 2020. The ATQ regulation covers species such as tuna, Alaska pollack, cod or flatfish for which a relatively high volume can be imported from non-EU countries at a reduced or zero-duty tariff. Up to 750.000 tonnes of fish will benefit from this scheme and will enter the European markets regardless of their origin, way of production, sustainability of the stock, labour standards or even if the third country has been identified by the EU for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Europêche believes that, in many cases, ATQs serve the sole purpose of getting a better price from non-EU producers, while putting pressure on EU producers’ prices and employment.