Procedure : 2006/2110(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0266/2006

Texts tabled :

A6-0266/2006

Debates :

PV 27/09/2006 - 13
CRE 27/09/2006 - 13

Votes :

PV 28/09/2006 - 7.9
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0390

REPORT     
PDF 199kWORD 107k
12 September 2006
PE 374.267v02-00 A6-0266/2006

on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

(2006/2110(INI))

Committee on Fisheries

Rapporteur: Pedro Guerreiro

ERRATA/ADDENDA
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

(2006/2110(INI))

The European Parliament,

–    having regard to the revision of the common fisheries policy in December 2002 and, in particular, its resolution of 17 January 2002 on the Commission Green Paper on the future of the common fisheries policy(1),

–    having regard to its legislative resolution of 6 July 2005 on a proposal for a Council regulation on the European Fisheries Fund(2),

–    having regard to the communication of 9 March 2006 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry (COM(2006)0103),  

–    having regard to the public hearing held by the Committee on Fisheries on 3 May 2006 on the impact of increased fuel prices on the European fishing industry,

–    having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0266/2006),

A.  whereas the fishing industry is of strategic importance for the socio-economic situation, the public supply of fish and the equilibrium of the food balance in various Member States and the European Union (EU) itself, and whereas it makes a considerable contribution to socio-economic wellbeing in coastal communities, local development, employment, the preservation/creation of economic activities and jobs upstream and downstream, the supply of fresh fish and the preservation of local cultural traditions,

B.   whereas there is a common fisheries policy (CFP), which should bear responsibility for financing its costs, in particular the decisions and measures adopted as part of that policy,

C.  whereas the financial ceilings under the financial framework for 2007-2013 must be respected, but it would nevertheless have been desirable for more adequate funding to have been set aside for the fishing industry,

D.  whereas the various fleets of EU Member States totalled around 90 000 vessels in 2004 and directly employed around 190 000 fishermen,

E.   whereas the CFP must take account of the marked differences between fleets, fleet segments, target species, fishing gear, productivity, consumption preferences and the fish consumed per capita in the various EU Member States, in addition to the special features of fishing activity stemming from their social structure and structural and natural imbalances between the various fishing regions,

F.   whereas the sustainability of fishery resources is fundamental in guaranteeing fishing activity and the viability of the fishing industry in the long term,

G.  whereas the activity of the fishing industry is concentrated above all in economically fragile regions - the majority of them Objective 1 regions - and the crisis situation in the industry is having a profound impact on the economic and social cohesion of these regions,

H.  whereas the CFP will need to support the sustainable development of the fishing industry,

I.    whereas, in some fisheries, there is a clear disparity in the income level of people living from fishing by comparison with other sections of the population, aggravated by the fact that they depend on the uncertainty of fishing, the uncertain value of fish and the cost of certain factors of production; whereas Community policies must therefore guarantee an equitable standard of living for people for whom fishing is their livelihood, particularly by improving the balance between the income and outgoings of enterprises,

J.    whereas the incomes and wages of people working in the fishing industry are insecure owing to the way in which fish is marketed, the way in which first-sale prices are set and the irregular characteristics of fishing, which means that certain forms of national and Community public assistance need to be maintained,

K.  whereas the rise in fuel prices is having direct and indirect repercussions on the incomes of crews, owing to the link between wages and income from the first sale of catches, leading to a fall of up to 25%,

L.   whereas the economic situation of many fishing enterprises has deteriorated over the past few years, even leading to the disappearance of many enterprises, owing to the drop in output, with negative socio-economic repercussions,

M.  whereas the drop in output stems partly from restrictions on fishing activity (capacity reduction, TACs, quotas, areas closed to fishing, recovery plans and the reduction in fishing days), and partly from the maintenance of low first-sale prices arising from the structure of the industry (low concentration of supply, growing concentration of demand, poor distribution of added value, progressive increase in imports of fish products, rise in aquaculture production),

N.  whereas the economic and social crisis facing the fishing industry affects all fishing fleets, but in different degrees,

O.  whereas, in the past ten years alone, the fishing industry suffered a 35% fall in the number of jobs, a 20% fall in the number of vessels and a 28% fall in catches, despite the attempts made during the 2002 revision of the CFP to reverse this trend,

P.   whereas, in order to ensure the economic viability of the fishing industry, its adaptation needs to be accompanied by socio-economic measures designed in particular to achieve the highest levels of safety by means of fleet modernisation, secure a high level of training for people working in the industry and improve working and living conditions for people living from the sea,

Q.  whereas there has been a steady increase in the balance of trade deficit for fish products with third countries in recent years and the EU already imports more than 40% of the fish products it consumes,

R.   whereas the sales dynamic prevents fluctuations in cost factors from impacting on fish prices and average first-sale prices have stagnated or decreased since 2000 without this being reflected in a reduction in the price of fresh fish for the end consumer,

S.   whereas, in some cases, the current common organisation of the market (COM) for fish products has not succeeded in making a sufficient contribution to improving first-sale prices and the distribution of added value across the value chain in the industry,

T.   whereas promoting the indiscriminate scrapping of vessels, without taking account of the specific features of fleets, fishery resources and the needs as regards fish consumption in each country, has been the driving force for matching the size of the fleet to existing fishery resources, with enormous economic and social consequences,

U.  whereas fishing effort reduction has affected some Member States more than others, and there are some Member State fleets that have made global reductions above the Community average and others that have instead increased fishing effort,

V.  whereas the discontinuation of some fishing methods will automatically lead to the disappearance of several artisanal fisheries, with major social and economic repercussions,

W. whereas increases in fuel prices in the past three years have had a particularly negative impact on the fishing industry, significantly aggravating the already existing crisis, its operating margins and its economic viability and leading to a very significant cut in fishermen’s income,

X.  whereas fuel prices rose by almost 100% between 2004 and 2006 and now account for approximately 50% of total operating costs for fishing enterprises in some segments of the industry,

Y.  whereas there are studies pointing to the risk of the disappearance of thousands of fishing enterprises and the loss of thousands of jobs owing to the increase in fuel prices,

Z.   whereas various EU Member States have applied specific measures to compensate their fleets for the increase in fuel prices, particularly by creating guarantee funds and subsidised credit lines,

AA. whereas the trend towards high fuel prices is structural in nature,

AB. whereas, as regards exemptions from the notification of state aid, the Commission is proposing that the 'de minimis' rule for the fishing industry be raised to around EUR 30 000 per beneficiary over a three-year period, a lower sum than is applied to other sectors,

AC. whereas the Brussels European Council of 15 and 16 December 2005 cut the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for the period 2007-2013 by comparison with the Commission proposal, reducing it from around EUR 4.9 billion to around EUR 3.8 billion, thereby further exacerbating the insufficiency of Community financial resources for the fishing industry,

AD. whereas the political agreement on the EFF reached on 19 June 2006 does not take account of key aspects of its above-mentioned resolution of 6 July 2005 and includes Commission proposals set out in the above-mentioned Commission communication,

Commission communication

1.   Regrets the delay in the Commission communication and the lack of ambition shown, given that the proposals put forward are insufficient and in some cases inappropriate when measured against the scale and severity of the crisis facing the sector, which the Commission itself notes and describes;

2.   Deplores a policy which, taking advantage of the socio-economic deterioration in the industry owing to the steep rise in fuel prices, seeks to promote the scrapping of vessels and the permanent cessation of activities;

3.   Regrets that the measures proposed do not have a genuine socio-economic dimension and that, instead, they are measures that take no account of the consequences of their implementation for vessel crews;

4.   Draws attention to the fact that the Commission communication does not contain a coherent analysis of the current state of the fishing industry, particularly of fishing effort;

5.   Stresses that many of the proposals put forward will at most have a medium and long-term impact on the economic situation in the fishing industry;

Immediate measures

6.   Regrets that, as regards rescue and restructuring aid, the Commission continues to block the possibility of granting compensatory payments and operating aid, and therefore stresses the need to adopt immediate concrete measures to reduce the high instability of fuel prices for the industry, in particular by creating support measures related to their costs; requests, in this context, the creation of a guarantee fund with Community participation which will safeguard the stability of fuel prices and the granting of a transitional compensatory payment for fishing enterprises affected;

7.   Considers it necessary to make use of all the possibilities and financial margins within the framework of the Community budget for 2006 in order to finance extraordinary support measures for the industry, enabling it to overcome the difficulties posed by the rise in fuel prices, for as long as no other type of measure is implemented;

8.   Calls on the Commission, with a view to guaranteeing the competitiveness of the EU fleet operating outside Community waters, which must compete on the same markets with fleets from third countries whose costs may be more than 300% less than for a Community vessel, to study the industry's proposals to create a framework which could grant tax credits;

9.   Urges that a public insurance scheme be set up, guaranteed at national and Community level, for unforeseeable circumstances in the fishing industry;

10. Urges the Commission to consider the current fuel price crisis as an unforeseeable circumstance covered by Article 16 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999 of 17 December 1999 laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community assistance in the fisheries sector(3), which governs the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), so that the same short-term aid can be granted as in the event of temporary cessation of activities, without any capacity-reduction or biological criteria; recalls the commitments long given in this context;

11. Urges the Commission to increase the period for rescue aid to 12 months;

12. Stresses that public aid should also be targeted at safeguarding the interests of vessel crews, meeting their needs and resolving the problems affecting them;

13. Expresses its disappointment at the rules recently announced by the Commission, raising the 'de minimis' aid ceiling for the fishing industry to only EUR 30 000 over three years; recalls the insistent requests from the industry and the administrations of many Member States that the amount of such aid be increased to EUR 100 000, and compares this figure with the ceiling recently agreed for other productive sectors, which stands at up to EUR 200 000; underlines the commitments given as regards increasing the value of the ‘de minimis’ rule for the fishing industry and calls on the Commission to revise the recently adopted agreement upwards as a matter of urgency;

14. Urges the Commission to make it possible to advance aid under the FIFG and the EFF in order to set up financing lines to offset the rise in operating costs;

Measures with a medium and long-term impact

Fleet renewal and modernisation

15. Notes the Commission’s proposal to take account, in relation to future restructuring plans, of investment linked to changes in fishing gear, the purchase of equipment and replacement of engines, with the aim of contributing to conversion, efficiency and energy saving;

16. Takes the view that restructuring plans in individual EU Member States should form a fundamental part of the restructuring of the fishing industry;

17. Regrets the lack of vision in the new EFF's approach to aid for engine replacement; takes the view that measures such as linking aid for engine replacement for vessels longer than 12 metres to a 20% reduction in power will make some fishing practices virtually unviable and may affect safety, whilst they may also encourage increased fraud in the form of underdeclaring of engine power;

18. Stresses the need for the EFF to continue to grant aid for the renewal and modernisation of the fishing fleet - in particular for the replacement of engines, for reasons of safety, environmental protection or fuel efficiency - above all for small-scale inshore and artisanal fishing, and for the replacement of vessels over 20 years old, which are no longer operating safely;

Inshore fishing

19. Asks the Commission to recognise the specific nature of small-scale inshore fishing and artisanal fishing in the CFP and to analyse the extent to which the current instruments are suitable for responding to the sector’s needs, adapting them accordingly;

20. Asks the Commission to submit a proposal for the creation of a Community support programme for small-scale inshore fishing and artisanal fishing, which would help to coordinate actions and channel funding from other existing instruments to deal with the specific problems facing this segment of the industry;

Marketing

21. Welcomes the fact that the Commission intends to launch a comprehensive evaluation of the present common organisation of the market (COM) for fish products; stresses the need for an ambitious review of this COM in order to improve the marketing of fish and fish products and boost their added value;

22. Considers it essential for fishermen to be more directly involved in processing and marketing so as to strengthen their profit base and improve their living standards; calls on the Commission to submit proposals for a revision of the COM for fishery products to this end, specifically by introducing mechanisms to improve first-sale prices and promote the fair and appropriate distribution of added value across the value chain;

23. Expresses its disappointment because in many cases the possibilities for improving competitiveness provided under the current COM have not been sufficiently used by the industry and calls on the Commission, in cooperation with national administrations and the various organisations representing producers, to give maximum publicity to these possibilities and to the new possibilities which may figure in a future revision of the COM;

24. Considers it important to consider introducing other forms of intervention similar to guarantee prices or maximum profit rates as a means of improving the distribution of added value, reducing intermediation margins;

25. Stresses the need for the Structural Funds to contribute to the modernisation and creation of marketing infrastructures for the fishing industry;

26. Supports the initiative to introduce a code of conduct on the trade in fish products in the European Union;

27. Endorses the view that eco-labelling might promote product differentiation and provide an incentive for a sustainable fishing trade;

28. Urges the Commission to study mechanisms - such as aid for consumption - to promote the marketing of processed fish products with a greater added value, in particular canned fish, in the same way as certain agricultural products;

29. Urges the Commission to ensure the external promotion of Community fish products, such as canned fish, in particular by funding their presentation at international competitions and fairs;

30. Considers it important for the Commission to submit a study on the impact of Community and imported aquaculture production on fish prices, in particular first-sale prices;

31. Urges the Commission to adopt measures to ensure that the same requirements are applied to imported fish products marketed on the internal market as are applied to Community fish products;

32. Takes the view that investment in improving the handling of fish on board, particularly support for investment in refrigeration systems, could help improve first-sale prices;

Financial issues

33. Expresses concern at the scant financial resources made available for the fishing industry in the financial framework 2007-2013, in particular for the EFF, and considers that these resources should be increased to respond to the crisis affecting the industry;

Sustainability of resources

34. Reiterates its request to the Commission that it should take a more wide-ranging view of measures to protect the marine environment and rebuild depleted fish stocks, in particular by considering and studying other factors which have a considerable impact on the marine environment and the state of fishery resources, such as coastal and offshore pollution, industrial and agricultural effluents, deep-sea dredging and maritime transport, to complement current management methods; asks the Commission for a Community initiative in this area;

35. Points out that it is essential to achieve a balance between the socio-economic situation and environmental sustainability, whilst at the same time underlining the need to implement a mechanism for subsidising or compensating fishermen who are affected by the economic and social effects of stock recovery plans or other measures to provide increased protection for ecosystems, especially in less favoured regions;

36. Points to the need for a regulatory framework for action to adjust fishing effort to available resources, with particular reference to the problem of large vessels with large gear fishing in small bodies of water;

37. Stresses that the reduction of fishing effort and capacity must be undertaken with a view to the long-term preservation of the industry;

38. Is convinced that the social and economic problems faced by the European fishing industry cannot be resolved without better management of fishing activities leading to the recovery of fish stocks, since with no fish there can be no fishing;

39. Stresses that matching national fleets to existing resources must take account of the reduction in fishing effort already brought about;

40. Recalls the need for all stock recovery measures to be taken with the involvement of fishermen and based on scientific fisheries research;

41. Calls on the Commission to make a distinction between fishing methods and the way in which they are applied; stresses that some fishing methods that are deemed harmful when used on an industrial scale can be in keeping with a sustainable approach when used on an artisanal scale, and can thus enable fishing communities currently in terminal decline to survive;

42. Calls on the Commission to take account of the fact that fishing activities are not self-contained but form part of broader fishing systems at regional level; stresses that restrictive measures (bans or limits) placed on one type of activity create an imbalance and result in fishing effort being transferred to other species, with serious social and economic repercussions for fishing communities and overfishing of species that were already being fully fished;

Illegal fishing

43. Considers it vital that measures be taken to strengthen the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; urges the Member States to strengthen their control mechanisms; considers that improved controls at the EU borders are necessary in order to prevent the entry into the EU of fish that has been caught illegally;

44. Calls on the Commission to review the current common fisheries policy provisions on illegal, unreported and unregulated catches; considers that there is a particularly pressing need for regulations to prevent a significant percentage of catches from being discarded;

Research

45. Stresses the need to promote investment, through the EFF and the Seventh Community Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities, which will help to reduce energy intensity in the fishing industry and increase energy efficiency;

46. Considers it important to assess the possibilities for changing fuel types and the synergies which might be found with the farming industry in the field of energy;

Management of the CFP

47. Notes the Commission’s proposals on the economic management of fisheries, but recalls that the distribution of quotas and fishing rights is an exclusive competence of the Member States;

Participation in the management of the CFP

48. Points out that Regional Advisory Councils may play an important role for the involvement of fishermen in the decision-making process for the common fisheries policy; stresses the importance of receiving Community aid for their operation which should be reevaluated in five years' time;

49. Stresses the need to support fishermen’s groups and professional organisations which are willing to share responsibility for the application of the CFP (co-management);

50. Urges greater decentralisation of the CFP as a means of guaranteeing greater involvement of fishermen, their representative organisations and fishing communities in the CFP and in improving fisheries management;

51. Notes the need for proper organisation of fisheries markets, involving an effective control system, an eco-labelling system and the introduction of a legal code for the fishing industry;

* * *

52. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ C 271 E, 7.11.2002, p. 401.

(2)

OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p. 324.

(3)

OJ L 83, 4.4.2000, p. 35.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The fishing industry

The fishing industry is of strategic importance for the socio-economic situation, the public supply of fish and the equilibrium of the food balance in various countries of the European Union (EU). The industry makes a considerable contribution to local development in coastal communities, employment, the preservation/creation of economic activities and jobs, the supply of fresh fish and the preservation of local cultural traditions.

In 2004, the various fleets in the EU totalled around 90 000 vessels and directly employed around 190 000 fishermen. There are marked differences between fleets, fleet segments, target species, fishing gear, productivity, consumption preferences and the fish consumed per capita in the various Member States.

Moreover, the activity of the fishing industry is concentrated mainly in economically fragile regions which are highly dependent on the industry, most of which are also less-favoured regions (Objective 1). In 2003 around 63% of fishermen, 25% of jobs in the processing industry and 45% of jobs generated by aquaculture were located in less-favoured regions dependent on fishing.

The industry is also characterised by the insecurity of incomes and wages arising from the irregular characteristics of the activity and the way in which fish is marketed, in particular the way in which first-sale prices are set.

In recent years, the economic situation of many fishing enterprises has deteriorated owing to the drop in output, with negative social repercussions.

The marked drop in output stems partly from restrictions on fishing activity and partly from the stagnation/decline of first-sale prices arising from the structure of the industry and unfavourable market conditions. Moreover, the sales dynamic prevents fluctuations in cost factors (specifically fuel) from impacting on fish prices.

Average first-sale prices have stagnated or declined since 2000, without this being reflected in a reduction in the price of fresh fish for the end consumer.

The current common organisation of the market for fish products has not helped improve the distribution of added value across the value chain in the industry.

In the past ten years alone, the fishing industry has seen a 35% fall in the number of jobs, a 20% fall in the number of vessels and a 28% fall in catches. The 2002 revision of the common fisheries policy not only failed to reverse this trend but actually worsened it.

The result is that the EU already imports more than 40% of the fish products it consumes, and the balance of trade deficit for fish products with third countries has been growing steadily in recent years.

Promoting the scrapping of vessels regardless of the specific features of fleets and the consumption requirements in each Member State has been the driving force for matching the size of the fleet to existing fishery resources, with enormous economic and social consequences.

Nevertheless, the reduction in gross tonnage and engine power has not matched the intensity of the reduction in the number of vessels. On the contrary, gross tonnage and average power per vessel have increased in recent years.

The reduction in fishing effort has affected some Member States more than others; some Member State fleets have seen overall fishing effort reductions above the Community average, whilst other fleets have increased their fishing effort.

The crisis hitting the sector has been worsened by the increase in fuel prices over the past three years, a situation which is set to be structural in nature and which has had a particular impact on the fishing industry, aggravating the existing crisis and affecting its operating margins and economic viability.

Between 2004 and 2006, fuel prices rose by 100% and fuels now account for approximately 40% of total operating costs for fishing enterprises.

The Commission estimates a loss of income for crew members of up to 25%, bearing in mind that their wages represent a percentage of the value of catches. Studies point to the risk of the disappearance of around 30% of fishing enterprises and the loss of more than 16 000 jobs owing to the increase in fuel prices.

Rapporteur’s remarks

The Commission communication on ‘improving the economic situation in the fishing industry’ provides a relatively sound diagnosis of the economic situation in the industry, but the solutions put forward are at the very least insufficient and may even be considered inadequate if we bear in mind the need to adopt emergency measures to support the industry in the face of the serious socio-economic situation with which it is struggling to cope. The Commission itself notes and describes this serious situation.

Even though some of the measures proposed by the Commission may be reasonable, they are anything but emergency measures and will certainly not produce effects immediately or in the short term, which means that they do not respond to the current needs of the industry.

These measures are late arriving and do not match the commitments given by the Commission in the meeting with industry representatives on 29 July 2005.

These measures make no provision for boosting appropriations for the industry in the Community budget and do not propose any new instrument, which gives rise to doubts not only as to their effectiveness but also as to the level of ambition and actual impact that they will have on ‘improving the economic situation’ in the industry.

The difficulties now facing the fishing industry essentially stem from the problem involving the structure of costs, which are excessively high when measured against the output obtained. Moreover, these costs have been abruptly worsened by the sharp rise in fuel prices.

This means that the solution of ‘less fishing effort’ and ‘adapting the fleet’, i.e. promoting the permanent cessation of vessels’ activity, cannot be considered as a genuine solution to the problem, particularly when the aim is to ‘improve the economic situation in the industry’, unless the idea is for the supply of fish to be so minute (provided that the fish is not replaced by supply based on imports or aquaculture) that the market, faced with a shortage of fish products, would generate a dramatic rise in the price of fish.

The rapporteur deplores a policy which, taking advantage of the socio-economic deterioration in the industry, worsened by the sharp rise in fuel prices, seeks to promote the scrapping of vessels and permanent cessation of activity. In your rapporteur’s view, references to ‘matching the fleet to resources’ are totally inappropriate when the aim is to ‘improve the economic situation in the industry’, an issue which is linked above all to the problem of the balance between (declining) output and (rising) operating costs in the industry.

The Commission’s conclusion that ‘removal of this excess capacity is, therefore, an important objective’ does not resolve the problem.

In the same way, if we start from the principle that the successive restrictions on fishing that have been implemented, although not the sole cause, have contributed to the worsening economic situation in the industry, it becomes incomprehensible that they should be accepted or considered as measures for ‘improving its economic situation’.

An effective ‘improvement in the economic situation in the fishing industry’ requires the adoption of emergency measures which will provide an immediate and effective response to the socio-economic needs of the industry, in addition to the adoption of measures whose implementation and impact will be of a medium and long-term nature. Especially since we are dealing with a common Community policy - the common fisheries policy - which should bear responsibility for financing its costs in a coherent manner.

It becomes apparent from the diagnosis that the 2002 revision of the CFP not only failed to place the various EU fleets on the road towards sustainability but worsened the economic and social situation in the industry, whereby particular attention should be drawn to the fall in jobs and catches.

Rapporteur’s proposals

Bearing in mind the Commission’s proposals, the rapporteur has sought to include in this report proposals put forward by the representative structures of the fishing industry, and to reiterate the European Parliament’s standpoints in relation to the European Fisheries Fund.

Nevertheless, the rapporteur takes the view that the proposals to be put forward cannot be restricted to the current framework in the narrowest sense, which is the Commission’s approach. If the objective is to find the best solutions for ‘improving the economic situation in the industry’, we will need to put forward all possible proposals for bringing about such an improvement both in the immediate future and in the medium and long term.

In terms of immediate measures, the rapporteur regrets the fact that the Commission continues to block the possibility of operating aid and concrete measures to reduce the high instability of fuel prices for the industry. Consequently, the rapporteur calls for the creation of a guarantee fund with Community participation which would safeguard the stability of fuel prices and the granting of a transitional compensatory payment for fishing enterprises affected. The rapporteur considers it necessary to create a public insurance scheme, guaranteed at national and Community level, for unforeseeable circumstances in the fishing industry, as is the case in other sectors.

In relation to the Community budget for the current year, the rapporteur considers it necessary to make use of all the possibilities and financial margins in order to finance extraordinary support measures for the industry. With regard to the FIFG, an analysis should be made of all the aid possibilities, in particular by advancing aid (in order to set up financing lines to offset the rise in operating costs) and/or considering the current fuel price crisis as an unforeseeable circumstance covered by Article 16 of Regulation 2792/1999. Nevertheless, the rapporteur would point out that the FIFG margin may be small, bearing in mind that it has been reported that some Member States have already used up the appropriations authorised.

With regard to the rescue aid proposed by the Commission, the rapporteur considers that the period for such aid should be increased to 12 months. The rapporteur also proposes increasing the value of the ‘de minimis’ rule for the fishing industry and stresses the urgency of this step, specifically bringing its value into line with that for other productive sectors, i.e. up to EUR 100 000.

In addition to these measures, it is also important to highlight measures with a medium and long-term impact. Given that it is essential to guarantee adequate financial resources, the rapporteur takes the view that the appropriations earmarked for the European Fisheries Fund need to be increased.

With regard to research, sufficient investment needs to be guaranteed for the fishing industry under the seventh Community research framework programme, with particular regard to improving energy efficiency.

With regard to fleet modernisation and renewal, the rapporteur welcomes the existence of investment for changes in fishing gear, the purchase of equipment and replacement of engines, with the aim of contributing to conversion, efficiency and energy saving. Nevertheless, he insists on the European Parliament’s proposal that the European Fisheries Fund should continue to grant aid for the renewal and modernisation of the fishing fleet, in particular for the replacement of engines, for reasons of safety, environmental protection or fuel efficiency.

In line with the report of the Committee on Fisheries on inshore fishing, the rapporteur stresses that the specific nature of small-scale inshore fishing and artisanal fishing should be recognised in the CFP and that the current instruments should be adapted to respond to the needs of this sector. The rapporteur also proposes a Community initiative for this segment of the fleet, in particular the creation of a Community support programme for small-scale inshore fishing and artisanal fishing.

With regard to the sustainability of resources, the rapporteur calls for a Community initiative to study all the factors which have a real impact on the marine environment and fish resources, such as coastal and offshore pollution, industrial and agricultural effluents, deep-sea dredging and maritime transport, to complement current management methods.

Attention should be drawn in this connection to the European Parliament’s proposal set out in its resolution on environmentally-friendly fishing methods, which described it as essential to achieve a balance between the socio-economic situation and environmental sustainability, implying the need to activate a mechanism for subsidising or compensating fishermen who are affected by the negative economic effects of environmentally-friendly fishing, particularly those working in less-developed areas.

The rapporteur also considers it important that the adaptation of national fleets to match resources should take account of the reduction in fishing effort already brought about and the respective consumption requirements in the Member State concerned, and that all measures must be taken with the involvement of fishermen and based on scientific fisheries research.

With regard to marketing, the rapporteur takes the view that a comprehensive evaluation needs to be made of the present common organisation of the market (COM) for fish products so as to improve the marketing of fish and fish products and first-sale prices and boost their added value.

The rapporteur insists on the European Parliament’s proposal for mechanisms to be created to promote the concentration of supply, in particular by supporting the setting-up and operation of producers’ organisations recognised in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 3759/1992.

With a view to reducing intermediation margins and improving first-sale prices, the rapporteur takes the view that an assessment should be made of other forms of market intervention, such as guarantee prices or maximum profit rates.

The rapporteur stresses the need to set up inter-trade bodies involving owners and workers in the fishing industry, which would promote dialogue between the various stakeholders in the industry upstream and downstream. He therefore supports an industry initiative to introduce a code of conduct on the trade in fish products in the EU.

It is also important to study mechanisms - such as aid for consumption - to promote the marketing of processed fish products with a greater added value, as well as measures to ensure the external promotion of Community fish products, such as canned fish, in particular by funding their presentation at international competitions and fairs.

In relation to prices, the Commission should submit a study on the impact of Community and imported aquaculture production on fish prices, in particular first-sale prices. In order to prevent unfair competition, the rapporteur stresses the need for the same requirements to be applied to imported fish products as to Community products marketed on the internal market.

As regards management, the rapporteur recalls that regional advisory councils may play an important role for the involvement of fishermen in the decision-making process for the CFP, and that they therefore need to receive permanent Community aid for their operation. Attention is also drawn once again to the need to support fishermen’s groups and professional organisations that are willing to share responsibility for the application of the CFP (co-management), a view endorsed by the European Parliament in relation to the European Fisheries Fund. The rapporteur takes the view that only greater decentralisation of the CFP will be able to guarantee greater involvement of fishermen, their representative organisations and fishing communities in the CFP and in improving fisheries management.PROCEDURE

Title

Improving the economic situation in the fishing industry

Procedure number

2006/2110(INI)

Committee responsible
  Date authorisation announced in plenary

PECH
1
8.5.2006

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

ENVI
14.6.2006

 

 

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

ENVI
14.6.2006

 

 

 

 

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary


 

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Pedro Guerreiro
19.4.2006

 

Previous rapporteur(s)

 

 

Discussed in committee

2.5.2006

21.6.2006

 

 

 

Date adopted

28.8.2006

Result of final vote

+

-

0

19

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Iles Braghetto, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Paulo Casaca, Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Alfred Gomolka, Pedro Guerreiro, Heinz Kindermann, Henrik Dam Kristensen, Albert Jan Maat, Philippe Morillon, Willi Piecyk, Dirk Sterckx, Struan Stevenson, Margie Sudre

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Dorette Corbey, Carl Schlyter

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Alfonso Andria, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides

Date tabled

12.9.2006

Comments
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Last updated: 18 September 2006Legal notice