President. The next item is the report by Seán Ó Neachtain, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries, on more environmentally friendly fishing methods (2004/2199(INI)) (A6-0019/2006).
Seán Ó Neachtain (UEN), rapporteur. – Mr President, I will start my presentation on promoting more environmentally friendly fishing methods by reminding Parliament that in recent times fishermen collectively have been seriously under attack.
Because of illegal actions by the few, there is a growing public perception that collectively fishermen are all potential criminals. I say to colleagues and especially to you, Commissioner, that this has to stop. Are there dishonest people in the fisheries sector? Of course there are, just like in every other sector – economic or otherwise – known to man. If someone is guilty of criminal activity then let the full force of the appropriate law apply. On the other hand, we must put a stop to the insidious branding of the entire fisheries profession with the same brush of dishonesty. We must never forget that the great majority of men and women involved in the sector are honest, dedicated and extremely hard-working people.
Furthermore, no meaningful change can be achieved without the active involvement and participation of those honest fishermen and women. In recent years the key challenge to maintaining sustainable fisheries has, to a large extent, developed into an overly simplistic and polarising debate on whether or not we should have more or less fishing. In reality the challenge of rebuilding stocks and maintaining sustainability is also about developing new and better ways of fishing through the utilisation and development of new technology.
The objective of maintaining sustainability must, most centrally, embrace the question of how we fish in the future so that we harvest our marine resources in the most environmentally favourable way. The introduction of fishing practices that reduce adverse impacts on our ecosystems is a priority. To achieve that we must first understand the effects of fishing practices on the marine environment and promote fishing activities that are environmentally sustainable. I am particularly pleased that the last Irish Presidency proposed the initiative of a major EU programme to make fishing activity more environmentally friendly in order to help to build European fish stocks.
This is an urgent matter. The urgency is clearly illustrated by one extraordinary statistic: 20 million tonnes of fish are being discarded worldwide every year, equivalent to about one quarter of total world catches. In the words of the then Irish Presidency, over-fishing is part of the overall problem; but taking that amount of fish out of the seas and then throwing it overboard is shockingly wasteful and has to be substantially reduced in the short term. I am sure that you will agree with me that we are going nowhere unless that happens, and that we must do something positive about it.
It is gratifying that we in the European Union are prepared to take the lead to tackle that worldwide problem and deal with such a wasteful side-effect of the fishing industry. The proposed environmental programme includes a review of all existing technical conservation measures within the next two years, to reduce ecosystem and environmental damage. It includes the proposal to fast-track the development of more selective fishing gear. It proposes the simplification of our current rules with a view to facilitating those changes.
I started my presentation in defence of fishermen. I conclude my presentation by underlining that it is our fishermen and women who will have a central role in deciding the future of the European fishing industry. Fishermen and women will have their say in this process through their regional advisory councils, which will have an extremely important role to play. There is no doubt in my mind that fishermen will fully subscribe to this new environmentally friendly approach. They will do so because it will contribute to sustainable fisheries. They will do so because it will contribute to improving fish stocks. They will do so because it will ensure that fish stocks are properly preserved for future generations.
Commissioner, if you want this programme to work then you must ensure that there are proposals for financial and other incentives, including additional quota entitlements to encourage fishermen to move towards more selective and more environmentally friendly fishing gear.
I hope that you will agree with me, Commissioner, that in the current context that will be a small price to pay.
Joe Borg, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I wish to begin by thanking the rapporteur, Mr Ó Neachtain, and the Committee on Fisheries for the constructive report on more environmentally friendly fishing methods and for the interest they have shown in the communication from the Commission. I cannot agree more with what the rapporteur has just said regarding the honesty and integrity of fishermen; the abuses of the few should not be blamed on everyone at large and we need to clamp down strongly on the real culprits.
The Commission attaches great importance to the development of more environmentally friendly fishing methods. Improving selectivity is one of the objectives of the technical measures that we propose in that context. In that regard, I am pleased to note that some progress has been achieved on the technical measures in the Baltic that were adopted by the Council in December, and the Commission intends to increase selectivity and the new technical measures to be proposed for the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic and North Sea.
I have noted your interest in combating ghost fishing. The Commission is prepared to be at the forefront of this battle. Following the Deepnet report, measures were decided, in the last TAC and in the quota regulation for 2006, to ban temporarily deepwater gillnet fishery in the areas covered by the report and concerned by this activity until such time as permanent measures – also applicable to other areas, in lieu of a complete ban – are adopted, hopefully, during this year. I have also reserved funds to support retrieval surveys of ghost nets. The Commission will continue to follow these issues with particular attention.
The reduction of discards will be a major objective of the new technical measures for the Atlantic and the North Sea. It needs to be underscored that, due to the variety of the catch composition and the level of discards in European Union waters, the regional aspects of the different fisheries will be taken into account. The various areas to be considered will correspond to the spheres of influence of the different RACs, thereby incorporating more easily the proposals made by those councils, a positive evaluation being made by the relevant RAC.
The Commission is encouraging the industry to engage in pilot programmes by making use of the RACs for this purpose. Two such pilot projects have already been carried out in France and Sweden. Further pilot projects, in full cooperation with the industry, will allow us to test on a case-by-case basis possible measures to reduce discards effectively.
The Commission is also encouraging the development of efforts in fisheries management in the Kattegat in cooperation with Denmark, Sweden and Germany. This will hopefully lead to positive results later this year. This kind of management, among other objectives, is aimed at reducing or eliminating discards.
Bycatch reduction is linked to selectivity and discard issues and, at international level, the Commission has promoted a global approach for bycatch issues within the FAO. This could result in an international plan of action on bycatch reduction and/or technical guidelines elaborated by the FAO.
Most of the measures to promote environmentally friendly fishing methods will be included in the new technical measures for the Atlantic and the North Sea. As you know, technical measures are considered as a complement to effort limitations, TACs and quotas, long-term management and recovery plans, and as part of the overall package of management measures.
I have noted your request to simplify the regulatory system and can inform you that these new technical measures will be a fundamental test case in the simplification programme led by the Commission. They are one of the principal points of the action plan on simplification.
Turning to the amendments: with regard to Amendment 1 on centralisation and co-management, the Commission would like to see substantial RAC involvement in the elaboration of technical measures without, however, any change to the decision-making process. The Commission agrees with taking into account initiatives of RACs so as to improve fisheries management and can accept that point on condition that the positive effects of such measures are confirmed by scientific assessment. I would like to emphasise that we already have examples to illustrate that the Commission takes into account proposals from the RACs, such as the case of the French square-meshed panel, the Swedish grid and the proposed new rule under which – for safety reasons – the cod line is to be placed as far as ten metres, instead of one metre, away from the meshes of the cod end when using an onboard pump system in pelagic fisheries.
It is premature to give a definitive reaction to Amendment 2, since discussions on depleted fish stocks are still under way. They will hopefully be concluded by April. However, the draft proposal from the Commission already provides for socio-economic compensation linked to recovery plans, and I can assure you that this topic will be given the necessary attention.
Struan Stevenson, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Mr President, let me first of all warmly congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Ó Neachtain, for a brilliant own-initiative report on introducing environmentally friendly fishing methods to the EU fisheries sector.
He has produced a very fitting conclusion to an initiative that, as he reminded us, was first started by the Irish Presidency. I agree with him and I agree with the Commissioner on the need to decriminalise honest fishermen. That is a crucial point that he brought out in his presentation. However, his report stresses two other points that I want to expand upon.
First of all, there is the need for the Commission to take a more wide-ranging view of measures to protect the marine environment and rebuild depleted fish stocks, in particular by studying factors other than over-fishing that may cause fish stocks to be depleted, such as pollution and global warming. As you know, Commissioner, there is mounting evidence that over-fishing has not been the only cause of the collapse of cod stocks in the North Sea. If that was so, the dramatic reduction in the number of fishing vessels that are now fishing for cod in the North Sea – numbers have collapsed by 60% through decommissioning in the last five years – would have led to a remarkable recovery in cod stocks, but that has not been the case.
It seems to me that the other factors – such as global warming or pollution or whatever other factors may be evident – should now be the basis of your review of the cod recovery programme, which I am delighted that you have agreed to carry out.
Indeed, the other point from Mr Ó Neachtain’s report that I want to emphasise is the point he strongly made on discards, when he emphasised that over 20 million tons of fish are discarded worldwide every year. One million tons are discarded in Europe every year. Commissioner, you said that two pilot projects were already under way. I thought you were also carrying out pilot projects in the North Sea. If you have any further information on the pilot projects and evidence concerning discards and how this may be tackled in the future I would very much like to hear it in your winding-up speech.
Dorette Corbey, namens de PSE-Fractie. – Voorzitter, commissaris, collega's, allereerst mijn complimenten voor het uitstekende verslag van collega Ó Neachtain. Onze fractie is ingenomen met het verslag en wij steunen ook de twee amendementen die nog ingebracht zijn. Het verslag komt op een belangrijk moment. Vorige maand werd bekend dat een aantal diepzeevissen met uitputting en zelfs uitsterving bedreigd worden. We kunnen er niet meer onderuit, het gaat slecht met de visstanden en koersverandering in de richting van een duurzame en milieuvriendelijke visserij is hard nodig en die verandering treft ons allemaal.
Laat ik beginnen bij de vissers, zij zullen zich moeten aanpassen aan het feit dat visbestanden uitgeput raken. Technische maatregelen zijn nodig, zoals akoestische afschrikmiddelen, elektrische impulsen om bodemberoering overbodig te maken, adequate mazen en vishaken om bijvangst te minimaliseren, maar de niet-technische maatregelen zijn minstens even belangrijk. Daarbij denk ik in de eerste plaats aan het voorkomen van illegale visvangst en het instellen van visreservaten. Vispopulaties krijgen zo weer de kans om te groeien.
Het klinkt eenvoudig, maar dat is het helaas niet. Onze fractie benadrukt dat vissers in staat gesteld moeten worden, duurzame methoden toe te passen. De visserijsector heeft het niet gemakkelijk, alleen al vanwege de stijgende olieprijzen. Daarmee is een actieve en betrokken overheid noodzakelijk om duurzame visserij te bevorderen. De overheden moeten daarnaast garant staan voor controle en handhaving. Illegale visserij maakt de situatie onmogelijk voor alle partijen. Zonder effectieve controle leidt dit onherroepelijk tot een tragedy of the common sense. Iedereen verliest en er is straks geen vis meer over.
Ten derde moet ook de consument betrokken worden bij duurzame visserij. Veel consumenten willen goed gevangen vis kopen, maar ze weten niet welke vis duurzaam is. Certificering en keurmerken zijn daarom belangrijk. Duurzame vis is allereerst vis die niet wordt overbevist zonder onnodige bijvangst en teruggooi, en goede voorlichting aan consumenten is daarbij nodig. Alleen dan zal de consument ook weloverwogen kiezen voor duurzaam gevangen vis.
Ten slotte, om een koersverandering mogelijk te maken, moeten we ook als politici verantwoordelijkheid nemen. We moeten voortdurend de aandacht vragen voor duurzame visserij en we moeten handelen; we moeten een antwoord geven aan die vissers die de instelling van visreservaten tijdelijk mogelijk maken, zodat ze tijdelijk niet hun inkomens verliezen. Het verslag dat voor ons ligt zijn een aantal goede stappen in die richting en deze moeten vorm krijgen in de nabije toekomst. De visserijsector moet natuurlijk bij de maatregelen betrokken worden. Alleen met verantwoordelijke politici en actieve overheid, innovatieve vissers en betrokken consumenten hebben zowel de visserijsector als de vis een duurzame toekomst.
Elspeth Attwooll, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, the ALDE Group congratulates Mr Ó Neachtain on his report. It is clear and succinct and yet comprehensive in its coverage of the issues. We particularly endorse the references to biodiversity and to the need for action in relation both to ghost fishing and discards, as well as the call for the Commission to continue to promote the adoption of an FAO International Plan of Action on bycatch reduction.
On ghost fishing, we stressed the importance of monitoring the existing transitional measure, to ensure that it is not simply leading to displacement of effort, and the importance of the full involvement of the European Parliament in discussions relating to long-term controls. We entirely agree with the report’s emphasis on the role that regional advisory councils can play in the promotion of environmentally friendly fishing methods and with the necessity of affording them increased technical and financial support.
We regret that we cannot vote for either of the amendments. Whilst we sympathise with the approach expressed in Amendment 1, particularly on decentralisation and co-management, we have difficulties with some of the wording and feel that the points are effectively addressed in paragraph 19. In the same way we believe that the issue of compensation, as raised in Amendment 2, is already adequately covered by the existing paragraph 6.
In conclusion, we commend the report to the Commission, the Council and Parliament as a whole.
Ian Hudghton, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I wish to thank our rapporteur, Mr Ó Neachtain, and assure him of my full support for his report, which I hope will be adopted unamended.
I know of no one with any interest whatsoever in fisheries who would not support the principle of environmentally friendly fishing methods: the people with most to gain, after all, from protecting the marine environment and ensuring a balance between conservation and harvesting of fish stocks are the fishermen themselves. Most of the fishermen I know are not just fishing for today but are hoping that, one day, their families will be able to follow them into the business.
However, there is much more to environmental protection than just technical measures, important as they will always be. The CFP itself, I would contend, is not environmentally friendly: TACs and quotas measure not the amount of fish caught but only the fish landed. Discards are caused by the CFP, rather than prevented by it.
Many people in Scotland’s fisheries-dependent communities are totally disillusioned with the European Union’s management of fisheries; so much so that, today, the Scottish Parliament’s European Committee considered a petition based on 250 000 signatures calling for withdrawal from the CFP. The Scottish Parliament agreed to ask for legal advice on this. That was not done lightly, but because there is a real and serious need for more radical reform than we have had thus far.
Pedro Guerreiro, em nome do Grupo GUE/NGL. – Em primeiro lugar, gostaria de saudar o relator pela abertura e esforço de síntese que demonstrou na elaboração do seu relatório, que na generalidade acompanhámos e que foi aprovado por unanimidade pela Comissão das Pescas.
Sem dúvida que a sustentabilidade dos recursos haliêuticos é fundamental para garantir a longo prazo a actividade piscatória e a viabilidade do sector das pescas.
A sustentabilidade dos recursos que deve basear-se numa abordagem abrangente quanto às medidas de protecção do meio marinho e de recuperação das unidades populacionais de pescado, deverá igualmente considerar factores como a poluição costeira e de alto mar, os afluentes industriais e agrícolas, a dragagem de fundos e o transporte marítimo. Essa sustentabilidade deverá igualmente alicerçar-se em medidas técnicas resultantes da investigação científica pesqueira, nomeadamente através da implementação de períodos e zonas de defeso e de regras em matéria de dimensão das malhas.
Por outro lado, consideramos que as políticas de gestão das pescas não devem ser usadas para penalizar esta actividade de valor estratégico e que tem uma importância económica e social vital, pelo que é necessário alcançar o equilíbrio entre a satisfação das necessidades socio-económicas e a sustentabilidade ambiental, nomeadamente implementando medidas socio-económicas adequadas para compensar os pescadores pelos custos de redução da actividade motivados por planos de recuperação de unidades populacionais de pescado, em especial, os que trabalham em áreas menos desenvolvidas. E porque a política comum de pescas é uma política comum, pensamos que deverá igualmente responsabilizar-se pelos custos das suas decisões neste domínio, pelo que reapresentámos uma proposta de alteração que insta a Comissão a propor medidas de compensação socio-económicas com a garantia de financiamento comunitário para os planos de recuperação de unidades populacionais de pescado.
Da mesma forma, defendendo que os pescadores e suas associações representativas devem participar na definição das medidas de protecção do meio marinho e de recuperação dos recursos haliêuticos, reapresentámos uma proposta de alteração que considera a descentralização e a co-gestão como dois princípios fundamentais, tanto para garantir o envolvimento dos pescadores e das suas associações representativas na definição das medidas nestes domínios, como também para garantir a eficácia destas, tendo em conta, não só, que são os pescadores que as irão aplicar como são estes que têm um conhecimento in loco do estado dos recursos e que são os principais interessados na sua preservação.
Kathy Sinnott, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Mr President, there is no doubt that the common fisheries policy and the traditional quota system have resulted in depleted fish stocks. The more recent day-at-sea approach does not guarantee environmentally friendly fishing and bizarrely rewards the use of smaller mesh. I am hopeful that policies developed under the newer system, where you have all-stakeholder consultation, will be better than the top-down policies.
I support closed boxes such as the recent Celtic Sea cod box, which, though difficult, has been supported by fishermen. I believe that we must increase mesh size to prevent unnecessary discarding of juvenile fish. Ninety millimetres should be the minimum mesh size in order to protect nursery areas and reduce discards.
More R[amp]D is needed to tailor selectivity devices such as square mesh panels and sorting grids to make them even more effective in protecting young fish. This year gill netting has been banned in waters deeper than 200 metres. However, further measures are required, including restrictions on the length of gear and measures to prevent the stripping and dumping of nets at sea. Mesh sizes for fixed gears must be harmonised.
I am confident that the measures outlined above, and others, can contribute significantly to sustainable fishing and ultimately lead to sustainable fisheries.
Duarte Freitas (PPE-DE). – Quero, em primeiro lugar, agradecer e dar os parabéns ao relator pelo trabalho realizado e referir que considero muito positiva a iniciativa da Comissão Europeia que lançaram a comunicação sobre a promoção de métodos de pesca mais respeitadores do ambiente.
De facto, o papel das medidas técnicas de conservação reveste-se hoje, mais do que nunca, de uma importância determinante para o futuro do sector. É essencial zelar pela adopção de métodos de pesca capazes de incrementar a selectividade e, por conseguinte, possibilitar a captura de peixes com as dimensões correctas tendo em conta a biologia e o ciclo de vida próprio de cada espécie.
Garantir a reprodução satisfatória dos peixes e, consequente, o aumento de efectivos, passa por medidas de gestão adequadas, como o encerramento temporário de determinados pesqueiros, redução para níveis sustentáveis das capturas acessórias, bem como a efectiva prática de fiscalização das embarcações e zonas de pesca com recurso ao uso de tecnologias de satélite.
É ainda necessário conhecer as realidades específicas de pesca praticada nos diferentes Estados-Membros e, com base nesse conhecimento, garantir a aplicação de medidas correctas e equilibradas que possam garantir a recuperação ou gestão dos mananciais de pesca ao mesmo tempo que se salvaguarda o interesse principal de pescadores e armadores. Para isso, é necessário adoptar uma abordagem descentralizada que tenha em linha de conta as características específicas dos pesqueiros e das diferentes espécies.
Apesar das boas intenções da Comissão, por vezes é necessária uma abordagem mais descentralizada em questões importantes e sensíveis para a sustentabilidade económica e ambiental da pesca. A proposta inicialmente avançada pela Comissão Europeia para a recuperação da pescada e lagostim do sul e a proposta mais recente para a recuperação da enguia europeia são disso exemplo.
A terminar, gostaria de referir que o desenvolvimento da investigação científica e a partilha de tecnologia ao nível da comunidade são premissas fundamentais para que se possa assegurar a integração de regras de pesca respeitadoras do ambiente. Nessa medida, julgo que devemos todos estar muito atentos à canalização de verbas que serão postas à disposição no âmbito do novo quadro comunitário de apoio à investigação.
Paulo Casaca (PSE). – Senhor Presidente, senhor Comissário e caros Colegas, associo-me vivamente às felicitações que já aqui foram endereçadas ao nosso colega Seán Ó Neachtain. Penso que se trata de um relatório feito sobre uma comunicação da Comissão que é o centro nevrálgico da política comum de pescas, tem de ser aqui e não noutros domínios, com outros instrumentos, que devemos encontrar as soluções para os problemas que enfrentamos e por isso não podia haver coisa mais importante que este debate que estamos aqui a realizar hoje.
Na região autónoma dos Açores, observámos avanços significativos deste ponto de vista nestes últimos anos, nomeadamente através da proibição da utilização de redes de emalhar de fundo e do arrasto de fundo. Penso, no entanto que tanto na região autónoma dos Açores como em todas as águas comunitárias há ainda muito por fazer naquilo que são estes métodos mais respeitadores do ambiente.
Em primeiro lugar é precisa uma gestão muito mais próxima da pesca, tendo em atenção o conceito fundamental do habitat marinho como centro para aplicar uma política de pescas. Em segundo lugar, temos de conceder a máxima prioridade, como acentuou o nosso relator, ao problema das devoluções.
Nós sabemos que existem outros países na própria Europa, fora da União Europeia, que utilizam como método a proibição de qualquer devolução e não vejo por que razão é que não se deve andar mais depressa para fazermos exactamente o mesmo no interior da União Europeia.
Acresce o problema fundamental dos sistemas de controlo de navios por via satélite e detecção de navios, em que há ainda muito a fazer para que eles actuem plenamente e é este último apelo que eu queria fazer à Comissão; para que tenha em atenção a necessidade de implementar o mais rapidamente possível esses sistemas e de fazer com que eles funcionem eficazmente.
Iles Braghetto (PPE-DE). – Signor Presidente, signor Commissario, onorevoli colleghi, promuovere metodi di pesca rispettosi dell'ambiente marino dimostra una forte presa di coscienza da parte dell'Unione europea sulle difficoltà che il settore attraversa e sull'esigenza di interventi strutturali per uno sfruttamento responsabile delle risorse acquatiche.
Ridurre la pressione di pesca, perché gli stock ittici si trovano in cattive condizioni, ottimizzare le catture evitando che ingenti quantitativi di pesce per lo più immaturo vengano gettati in mare, ridurre l'impatto su habitat particolarmente sensibili - sono questi gli obiettivi principali e condivisibili della politica comune della pesca.
Adottare misure intese a proteggere e conservare le risorse acquatiche vive, a garantirne uno sfruttamento sostenibile, a individuare misure compensative per il mancato reddito, a sostenere lo sviluppo per la ricerca e l'innovazione, sono impegni prioritari definiti dalla relazione in esame. Tale relazione che ha il nostro convinto sostegno, infatti se si rendono le attività di pesca più rispettose dell'ambiente si contribuisce anche alla promozione di condizioni socioeconomiche positive.
Sono convinto che le norme tecniche che disciplinano la pesca potranno essere correttamente applicate soltanto se i pescatori saranno disposti a farlo. Occorre quindi rafforzare la collaborazione, il consenso e la partecipazione di tutti i soggetti alla valutazione, all'attuazione e alla definizione di tutte le misure tecniche da adottare, favorendo anche un approccio decentralizzato; in questo modo ancora una volta l'Unione europea deciderà non sui cittadini, ma insieme ad essi.
Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski (PPE-DE). – Panie Przewodniczący! Gratuluję sprawozdawcy pomysłu i sposobu prezentacji.
Poszukiwania przyjaznych środowisku metod połowowych są długie jak dzieje rybołówstwa. Już świat starożytny wprowadzał stosowne rozwiązania prawne i techniczne, których celem było racjonowanie połowów oraz zapobieganie przetrzebianiu stada i niszczeniu biomasy, a tym samym równowagi środowiska. Jedynie w szczególnej atmosferze początków XIX wieku zwolniono wszelkie hamulce połowowe. Pod koniec tego stulecia wszystko wróciło do normy, czyli zaczęto przywracać rygory ochronne. Można przyjąć, że kompleksowe, naukowo podbudowane normy ochronne wypracowane zostały w połowie XX wieku Preferowały one tzw. połowy optymalne, polegające na regulacji wieku pierwszej łowności. W ślad za tym ustalały wymiar ochronny poławianych ryb czy zasady selektywności narzędzi połowu. Z drugiej strony, po prostu ograniczały limity, nakłady i potencjał połowowy.
Z kwestii szczegółowych dyskutowanego dokumentu komentarza wymaga nowe podejście do zasad ochronnych. W przeciwieństwie do stosowanych dotychczas zabiegów ochronnych, towarzyszących głównie połowom ukierunkowanym, proponuje się teraz ochronę innych, dotąd niechcianych obiektów połowu. Wydaje się to nie tylko racjonalne, ale i szlachetne, jakby inspirowane swoistą poprawnością polityczną wobec ryb. Ale czy na pewno przyjazne środowisku? Doświadczenie uczy, że połowami ukierunkowanymi zawsze osłabia się w ekosystemie siłę biologiczną gatunków cennych. Niszę ekologiczną tych najcenniejszych mogą opanować te bezużyteczne. Niezbędne zatem jest zalecenie stałego monitorowania ich wzajemnych relacji ilościowych.
Ιωάννης Γκλαβάκης (PPE-DE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, θα ήθελα συγχαρώ τον εισηγητή και να συμπληρώσω ότι, παρ' όλες τις ενέργειες που έχουν γίνει από την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση, τα αποθέματα ιχθύων απειλούνται συνεχώς και αυτό οφείλεται σε τρεις πολύ σημαντικούς παράγοντες: Πρώτον, στους εντατικούς ρυθμούς αλιείας. Δεύτερον, στις μεθόδους αλιείας και τρίτον, στη μόλυνση των θαλασσών.
Η Επιτροπή Αλιείας υιοθέτησε τον Ιανουάριο μια έκθεση που σκοπό έχει μια προώθηση μεθόδων αλιείας φιλικών προς το περιβάλλον, προτείνοντας διάφορα τεχνικά μέτρα, όπως τον καθορισμό περιοχών αλιείας, περιόδων αλιείας και εργαλείων αλίευσης.
Επιθυμία και επιδίωξη όλων μας είναι η αειφόρος εκμετάλλευση των θαλασσών και για τον λόγο αυτό πρέπει να κινηθούμε όλοι προς αυτήν την κατεύθυνση. Σ' αυτή τη προσπάθεια, θα ήθελα κι εγώ να τονίσω μερικά πράγματα:
Πρώτον, τα μέτρα που θα εφαρμοστούν πρέπει να βασίζονται σε επαρκείς τεκμηριωμένες επιστημονικές μελέτες, λαμβάνοντας υπόψη τις ιδιαιτερότητες κάθε περιοχής.
Δεύτερον, στην όλη διαδικασία πρέπει να μπορούν να συμμετέχουν, να έχουν δικαίωμα γνώμης και συναπόφασης και οι αλιευτικές οργανώσεις. Κατ' αυτόν τον τρόπο οι αλιείς, αντιλαμβανόμενοι τη σημασία και την αναγκαιότητα των μέτρων, θα συμβάλουν στην αποτελεσματικότερη εφαρμογή τους.
Τρίτον, οι φιλικότεροι προς το περιβάλλον μέθοδοι αλιείας συνεπάγονται λιγότερη και πιο επιλεκτική αλιεία, νέο εξοπλισμό και απώλεια εσόδων. Είναι λοιπόν σημαντικό να προβλεφθούν επαρκή κονδύλια για τη στήριξη των προσπαθειών.
Τέταρτον, είναι πολύ σημαντικό να ληφθούν αυστηρότερα μέτρα για την προστασία των θαλασσών από μολύνσεις προερχόμενες είτε από ξηράς είτε από θαλάσσης, και
πέμπτον, οι θάλασσες δεν γνωρίζουν σύνορα. Η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση πρέπει να βρει τρόπους ώστε τα μέτρα προστασίας των θαλασσών να εφαρμοστούν όχι μόνον από τα κράτη μέλη αλλά και από τρίτες χώρες.
Τελειώνοντας, έχω να τονίσω ότι αποτελεί ιερό καθήκον για όλο τον κόσμο να αφήσουμε καθαρές θάλασσες με ψάρια και στις επόμενες γενιές.
James Nicholson (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I shall be the last tonight to add my congratulations to the rapporteur on his very good report. However, one line jumped out at me, and that is that TACs cannot control fishing mortality because they control landings but not catches and discards. This has been central to the problem of the common fisheries policy for decades and nothing that has been put in place by way of improvement has worked to date.
The cod recovery plan has not achieved the objective. Fishermen in my region of Northern Ireland have faced closure in the Irish Sea for a long number of years and we have not seen any concrete evidence that this has been a success. We need to look at where we are going.
Let us put the past behind us and start with a clean sheet of paper. It is in every fisherman’s interest that future stocks are protected and, if we must have controls, then let the industry be part of the decision-making process. You cannot continue to shut them out and blame them for non-cooperation. We have that opportunity through the regional consultation process. Let us bring everyone on board and let the industry be listened to and, above all, take on board some of its very good ideas.
It is a nonsense that if a fisherman says something, it must be wrong. This cannot be the bottom line for us in the future.
Joe Borg, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I could not agree more that ultimately we need to take a broad view on the reasons for depleted stocks. However, I will also stress that our communication deals with fisheries and how to come to grips with depleted stocks because, unless we reverse the trend as regards over-capacity and fishing effort, we will not deal with the problem effectively.
Regarding the point made concerning pilot projects on discards, there are indeed proposed projects in the North Sea aiming at increasing selectivity by new technical measures. I need to underline however that calling for a complete ban on discards from Community waters is easier said than done. This point was also raised by Mr Stevenson and by Mr Casaca. Even with regard to Norway, where fisheries are much less mixed and less complex, it has not been without problems. We are however looking at various ways of reducing discards, as I indicated in my initial presentation.
On another point made by Mr Stevenson concerning the studying of factors other than over-fishing, such as pollution and global warming – a point also raised by other honourable Members of Parliament – we are certainly willing to do this and we are doing so. The problem exists independently of the problem of depleted stocks, and we need to address it if we want to regain sustainable fisheries in the long-term interests of the fishermen themselves. In fact this is what we are trying to do by virtue of the proposed new technical measures and the communication we are preparing on maximum sustainable yields.
With regard to the point raised by Mrs Corbey, we are looking at the question of certification and labelling regarding sustainable fisheries by means of the eco-labelling proposal, which we hope to present during the course of this year.
I would also like to pick up the point that was made by Mr Hudghton, that environmentally friendly fishing methods are in the interests of the fishermen first and foremost. However, I would not agree with his point regarding the abandonment of the common fisheries policy, which I consider to be a cornerstone and the very basis of sustainable fisheries in the European Union.
With regard to the point raised by Mr Guerreiro, let me reiterate that the issue of compensation for socio-economic measures is being dealt with in the context of discussions on the European Fisheries Fund, which I hope will be adopted at the April Council.
In response to Mr Freitas’s point regarding the Vessel Monitoring System, I would like to state that the Commission considers that satellite technologies offer a powerful means of detecting the presence of unauthorised fishing vessels in closed areas and many protected areas and strongly supports the use of remote control technologies for control of the major part of the European Union fleet. The Commission supports VMS purchase and installation costs, and in fact the maximum amount paid during recent years has been in the region of EUR 2 250 for each blue box. In parallel, the Commission encourages the use of vessel protection systems which allows identification of the presence of vessels with VMS systems through a satellite image.
I agree with the point made by Mr Braghetto, Mr Gklavakis and Mr Nicholson on involving the fisheries sector – the various stakeholders and the industry – in the management of fisheries and in the various measures needed to attain and maintain sustainable fisheries. I also agree on the need to base our advice on scientific assessments.
I would also like to thank Mrs Attwooll, Mrs Sinnott, Mr Chmielewski and Mr Casaca for their views and for their very valid comments and remarks.