Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.
On July 22 2014, the new European Parliament Committee on Fisheries (PECH) held an exchange of views with Lowri Evans, Director-General of the European Commission DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE) on the Overview of progress with the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Please see below for a summary of the debate.
PECH committee chair, Alain Cadec (EPP, FR), welcomed Director-General Lowri Evans to the European Parliament. Introducing her to new MEPs, he said that she was responsible for CFP reform and would discuss implementation on an internal basis.
Lowri Evans, Director-General, DG MARE, congratulated all the returning MEPs. To the new MEPs, she said that DG MARE is there to help them do their job in the nature of technical assistance and clarifications at all times. She said that the CFP was proof that codecision is the servant of change. DG MARE deals with fisheries and maritime policy and she expressed the wish that PECH had an interest/responsibility for the wider aspect of maritime policy. She hoped that the MEPs would take the implications of maritime policy into account as well. Sea management goes well beyond fish.
Specifically on the internal aspect of the CFP reform, she said that maximum sustainable yields (MSY) are good for stock but more importantly, good for the economy of the fleet and the coastlines. They have been discussing this issue for a while, with a focus on the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea bases. Proof of the success to this point is in the fact that in 2009, 5 stocks were fished at MSY levels, which has now greatly improved to 20 stocks in 2014.
The bad news is found in looking at the numbers in policy statements for the Mediterranean. She called for the European Parliament’s help in getting to a better place in the next five years. One of the tools is a good management plan, which would be helpful in putting meat on the bones of the reform. It is time for DG MARE to deliver and she was impatient to make progress. For the Baltic Sea, this work is already very advanced, with the first legislative proposal expected after the summer break. This will be the first proposal of a new generation and should give elements of a template to be followed. The work gone into the proposal stage is significant. Now it is time to see if this is politically appropriate. It is an interesting dossier to look forward work. Work done on the North Sea is also well advanced. They are trying to get some meaningful input from scientists and will get it to the PECH committee as soon as possible, perhaps by the start of 2015.
The work remaining needs new science (for example, on outdated dossiers on horse mackerel and anchovy in the Bay of Biscay). Other areas that are not in good shape and need improvements include the Celtic Sea, the Adriatic, the North West Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea. The Commission needs to open its ears to stakeholders and work with fisheries to see how these fisheries can get out of their current suboptimal positions. This requires long-term management plans.
In the Mediterranean, the situation is bad. The more they have improved on the science and the more that is known of the situation, the worse it appears. 90% of stocks are overfished. It is not just about what Europe does, but what the neighbours do.
The Commission needs to check if Member State plans stand up to scrutiny, which can be accelerated in expert committees. They need to make sure that external proposals going forward go hand in hand with what is being done by the EU as a whole.
She noted that the landing obligation is one of the most dramatic things to come from the CFP reform, as it is implemented in 2015. The preparations are well underway and exceeding the highest and most optimistic expectations. There have been regional proposals from every part of the EU, including the Black Sea. The first stage is not so complicated, so she expected to see more progress. She hoped to provide the committee with information on the delegated acts by early October. It is necessary for fishermen to know what they have to do in advance. The regionalisation aspect of the CFP reform is leading to more innovative thinking.
The next years would be more difficult. In parallel with the landing obligation is the so-called omnibus mechanism, which will have to align with the new legal obligations. This consists of cheap and cheerful but urgent proposals, to avoid the situation of legal dissonance for fishermen. Next year, new proposals will transform and reform, but this is subject to later discussions. The Council is ready to go to trilogue, but it is up to the European Parliament to take up the baton as fast as possible.
She has been on tour in Europe for the internal aspect of the CFP reform, in terms of the implementation of the EMFF. Discussions with Member States mean that even though legislative dossiers are much delayed, Member States are catching up very quickly. The Commission expects to look at this with the Member States in autumn and to ensure that proposals are consistent with what is being done. This is all about what is being put into practice and what legislative changes are taken place. The delegated acts are also imminent for scrutiny.
Alain Cadec (EPP, FR) asked about a single Ecolabel for baskets for fishing and European fish farming. On the landing obligations, he wanted to know how the Commission intends to avoid sales of fish which are undersize or caught by accident. He noted that the omnibus would lead to amendments of other regulations and the Commission’s position is difficult to read. In a view to making life easier, he asked for a version of the Commission’s proposal with all the amendments included.
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