Answer given by Ms Damanaki on behalf of the Commission
In order to protect the marine environment and ensure sustainable exploitation of marine living resources in the Mediterranean basin, the Commission has made significant efforts in recent years in order to adopt measures at EU level, and to promote the same approach at multilateral level, within the framework of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the two Fisheries Management Organisations competent for fisheries management in the Mediterranean Sea. The active role of the European Union in those multilateral frameworks is essential in order to ensure that important management measures are applied by all the coastal states of the Mediterranean Basin.
In particular, the Mediterranean Regulation(1) includes provisions on the protection of sensitive habitats and species and on the establishment of fishing protected areas at both EU and national level; technical measures which aim to preserve the coastal areas from large-scale fishing activities for protecting marine resources and habitats are also foreseen. In the framework of the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), the EU has also been in particular active in promoting the development of new measures to manage the Mediterranean swordfish fishery and to reinforce the bluefin tuna recovery plan.
The EU has also taken several measures to improve protection of the marine biodiversity within the context of the of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution and, in particular, through the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol). In this regard, specific projects are funded by the EU to provide assistance to Mediterranean countries in the implementation of their commitments under the SPA/BD Protocol, especially in regard to developing and promoting Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Interest (SPAs and SPAMIs) to counteract the loss of marine and coastal biodiversity.
In line with its proposals for the reform of the common fisheries policy, the Commission will continue its effort to promote sustainable fisheries within an ecosystem approach to fisheries management both at EU level and through the pertinent multilateral organisations and this entails the cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders, including NGOs. However, while the Commission highly values the work of NGOs and continues to ensure that all stakeholders are able to play their role, it strongly condemns any action which endangers the lives of fishermen and unlawfully damages equipment and vessels.