Procedure : 2017/2266(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0055/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0055/2018

Debates :

PV 14/03/2018 - 21
CRE 14/03/2018 - 21

Votes :

PV 15/03/2018 - 10.5

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0083

REPORT     
PDF 411kWORD 63k
5.3.2018
PE 615.458v02-00 A8-0055/2018

containing a motion for a non-legislative resolution on the draft Council decision denouncing the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros

(14423/2017 – C8-0447/2017 – 2017/0241(NLE) – 2017/2266(INI))

Committee on Fisheries

Rapporteur: João Ferreira

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT NON-LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Development
 INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT NON-LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the draft Council decision denouncing the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros

(14423/2017 – C8-0447/2017 – 2017/0241(NLE)2017/2266(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14423/2017),

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros(1),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0447/2017),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of ...(2) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1936/2001 and (EC) No 601/2004 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 1093/94 and (EC) No 1447/1999(3) (‘the IUU Regulation’), particularly Article 8(8) thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 99(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0055/2018),

A.  whereas the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros (hereinafter ‘the Comoros’) provides for its termination by either party in the event of serious circumstances, such as failure to comply with undertakings made by the parties with regard to combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

B.  whereas illegal fishing is a major threat to global marine resources, given that it depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and destroys the livelihoods of coastal communities, particularly in developing countries;

C.  whereas the EU should take all possible steps to ensure that sustainable fisheries agreements entered into with third countries bring mutual benefits to the EU and the third countries concerned, including their local populations and their fisheries sectors;

D.  whereas the overall aim of the Protocol concluding the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros was to enhance fisheries cooperation between the EU and the Comoros in the interests of both parties, by establishing a partnership framework within which to pursue a sustainable fisheries policy while exploiting fishery resources in a sustainable way in the Comorian exclusive economic zone, as well as to secure an appropriate share, corresponding to the interests of the EU fleets, of the fishing surpluses available;

E.  whereas the first fisheries agreement between the EEC and the Comoros dates back to 1988 and whereas the fleets of EEC/EU Member States have since then been given access to fishing opportunities under a series of implementing protocols;

F.  whereas according to the UNCTAD report entitled ‘Fishery Exports and the Economic Development of Least Developed Countries’, sectoral cooperation has not progressed beyond a rudimentary state, with very little impact on the fishing industry, landing conditions, monitoring and surveillance capacity, scientific development, or the technical training of fishers and observers; whereas the price that the EU pays to the Comoros per tonne of fish (tuna) is roughly 15 % of the estimated wholesale price per tonne;

G.  whereas the Comoros was notified on 1 October 2015 of the possibility of its being identified as a non-cooperating third country for failure to exert adequate control of vessels registered under the Comorian flag; whereas, having been identified as a non-cooperating country in May 2017 and listed as such in July 2017 by the EU, which issued a ‘red card’, the country has still failed to take the corrective measures needed to resolve the problems identified and to combat IUU fishing;

H.  whereas the previous protocol to the fisheries agreement with the Comoros expired on 30 December 2016 and was not renewed because the Comoros had failed to give any undertaking to combat IUU fishing; whereas the protocol was endowed with a financial envelope of EUR 600 000 a year, of which EUR 300 000 were earmarked for the support of the fisheries policy of the Comoros with a view to promoting sustainability and sound management of fisheries resources in its waters;

I.  whereas the EU is firmly committed to combating illegal fishing and any form of business stemming from it, and that commitment is set out in the IUU regulation;

J.  whereas the EU and its Member States are pursuing cooperation with the Comoros in several sectors; whereas the EU’s denunciation of the fisheries Partnership Agreement can be reversed (if the necessary corrective measures are taken) and whereas the denunciation of this agreement does not rule out future negotiation of another agreement or any other form of partnership in the fisheries sector;

K.  whereas combating IUU fishing does not depend solely on identifying non-cooperating third countries, but, on the contrary, requires that ways be found to remedy situations brought to light; whereas unless it receives outside assistance, the Comoros will be unable to improve its marine management policies for fishery resources in particular, including as regards landing conditions, monitoring and surveillance capacity, scientific development, and the technical training of fishers and observers;

L.  whereas the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) incorporated, for the first time, a goal related to the conservation and sustainable use of seas and marine resources (Goal 14);

1.  Regrets that the Comoros has failed to take the corrective measures needed to resolve the problems identified and to combat IUU fishing, despite being warned by the EU;

2.  Reiterates the importance of effective flag state control, the absence of which is a root cause of IUU fishing; considers that the Comoros should meet its obligations under international law with respect to the supervision and control of vessels flying its flag; strongly believes that this lack of supervision and authorisation to fish enables such vessels to engage in IUU fishing with impunity;

3.  Takes the view that the Comoros should remain engaged with the EU and seize this opportunity to put in place the measures necessary to improve its ability to address illegal fishing;

4.  Deplores the fact that in almost 30 years of fisheries agreements between the EU and the Comoros – one component of which has been geared to cooperation and support for the development of the Comorian fisheries sector – it has not proved possible to achieve more tangible results in the sector’s development, including in fields such as monitoring and surveillance capacity, scientific development, and technical training for fishers and observers;

5.  Maintains that the available development cooperation instruments, especially the European Development Fund (EDF), need to be dovetailed more effectively with overall support for capacity development in the fisheries sector;

6.  Recalls that the Comoros has a duty, under the fisheries Partnership Agreement signed with the EU and other international instruments, as well as within the framework for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, to respect the principles of good governance in fisheries and responsible fishing, maintain fish stocks and preserve the marine ecosystem in its exclusive economic zone;

7.  Stresses the need to fight IUU fishing globally and to create incentives for states to take their responsibilities seriously and implement necessary reforms in their fisheries sectors;

8.  Maintains that combating IUU fishing must not hinge entirely on identifying non-cooperating third countries and that, in order truly to fight illegal fishing in all its forms, it is necessary to find ways of helping countries, in particular small island developing states, of which the Comoros is one, so as to enable them to alter their marine management policies;

9.  Agrees with the Commission and the Council on the need to apply the measures referred to in Article 38(8) of the IUU Regulation for the denunciation of any standing bilateral fisheries agreement with the Comoros, which provides for termination of the agreement in the event of failure to comply with undertakings made by it with regard to combating IUU fishing;

10.  Notes the other consequences referred to in Article 38(8) of the IUU Regulation, concerning prohibitions on chartering, reflagging and private agreements, among others;

11.  Maintains, however, that such denunciation must not mark the end of cooperation between the EU and the Comoros in the fisheries sector; urges the Commission to seek to ensure that this relationship can be reactivated as soon as possible, proceeding from the premise that fishing communities and small-scale artisanal fisheries should be considered central to the country’s development and that, to that end, investment and technical assistance should be promoted in the following areas:

  fisheries administration and governance system, legislation, institutional machinery, capacity-building for human resources (fishers, scientists, inspectors and others), and enhancement of the commercial and cultural value of traditional Comorian gear and fish;

  monitoring and scientific capacities, coastal protection capacity, and capacities for inspection, surveillance, and quality control;

  setting up facilities for refrigerating, distributing, and processing fish;

  construction and upgrading of landing and security infrastructure at ports and harbours;

  renewal of the Comorian small-scale fleet to improve safety, its ability to remain at sea, and fishing capacity;

12.  Calls for the inclusion of a clause whereby, should the Comoros remedy its shortcomings, the procedure would be stopped and the red card withdrawn, thus enabling the EU fleet to return;

13.  Calls on the Commission to take the appropriate steps to bring about a return to normal by improving the effectiveness of measures to combat IUU fishing and letting the EU fleet go back to the fishing zone once the terms of a new protocol have been renegotiated;

14.  Calls on the Commission and Council, each within its remit, to keep Parliament fully informed without delay of such developments as might occur in this process;

15.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Union of the Comoros.

(1)

OJ L 290, 20.10.2006, p. 7.

(2)

Texts adopted, P8_TA (0000)0000.

(3)

OJ L 286, 29.10.2008, p. 1.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The Union of the Comoros (Comoros) is a group of three main islands located in the western Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. The archipelago, which has been independent since 1975, also contains a fourth island, Mayotte, which opted for French sovereignty.

According to 2013 figures, the Comoros has a population of around 734 000 inhabitants. The historical context, political instability and difficulty in accessing resources place the Comoros among the least developed countries, with an economy heavily dependent on foreign grants and technical assistance.

The fisheries sector is the second largest sector in the country, after agriculture, and is considered to be a strategic priority. It accounts for 10% of jobs and 8% of GDP (2013 figures). These percentages nevertheless reveal a decline in the sector’s significance in terms of economic importance and employment, owing to its vulnerability to external factors – all domestic operations (8 000 fishermen) involve artisanal, small-scale activities using either small fibreglass boats 6-7 m in length, with an engine capacity of no more than 25 CV and with extremely rudimentary technical equipment, or non-motorised canoes.

The stocks that can be exploited in the Comoros EEZ – mostly large pelagic fish (tuna and swordfish) – are estimated at 33 000 tonnes per year, but annual catches made by local fishermen stand at around 16 000 tonnes. The remaining fish are caught by foreign industrial fleets and landed elsewhere. The fish are also processed outside the Comoros, including fish caught by the local fleet.

Bilateral fisheries relations between the European Union (and its predecessors) and the Comoros date back to 1988. From 2006 onwards, however, their relations have been governed by a Fisheries Partnership Agreement providing for a financial contribution with two distinct components: one for access to fisheries resources; and one geared to sectoral support to develop local capacities.

The Agreement under review in this report involved a total financial contribution of EUR 1 845 750, around 49% of which was earmarked for sectoral support. The Agreement allowed 45 licences to be granted for tuna seiners and 25 for surface longliners (shared between Spain, France and Portugal). This Agreement also required EU vessels operating under it to employ a minimum number of Comorian crew and included an exclusivity clause on the species to be fished.

Notwithstanding the conditions laid down in the Agreement and the associated protocol, its implementation was affected by various constraints – particularly relating to piracy – that meant that these fishing licences were not used. At the same time, the Comoros’ involvement in operations in breach of the Regulation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), in particular by allowing the reflagging of vessels involved in IUU fishing, led the EU to notify the Comoros in October 2015 of the possibility of its being identified as a non-cooperating country – which indeed happened in May and June 2017 (when it received a ‘red card’).

In the absence of any reaction by the Comorian authorities throughout this process, the Commission and Council are proposing that the Agreement be denounced.

On the whole, the rapporteur sees no reason to disagree with this denunciation of the agreement, but consideration should be given to two issues: the very precarious social situation in the Comoros; and a number of assessments made by UN bodies that criticise the EU’s powerful position when it comes to drawing up agreements and setting the price of fish (paying below the estimated wholesale price for tuna), and point out that fisheries partnership agreements have failed to support the development of the local industry.

The rapporteur would like to stress the fact that, in almost 30 years of fisheries agreements between the EU and the Comoros – which included a component geared to cooperation and support for the development of the Comorian fisheries sector – it has not been possible to achieve more tangible results in the sector’s development, including in fields such as monitoring and surveillance capacity, scientific development and technical training for fishermen and observers.

This assessment makes it essential, in the context of this decision, to put forward proposals designed to contribute to the continuity of support for development and help bring about an improvement in fisheries conditions in the Comoros, in related activities and in the quality of life for fishermen and fishing communities.

In this context of continued cooperation between the EU and the Comoros – notably in terms of development policy – it is important for the policy of the EU and its Member States vis-à-vis this country to focus on the strategic priorities, of which the fisheries sector is a central strand. The EU should thus continue to promote transfers that will enable the Comoros, among other things, to:

  improve its system for fisheries administration and governance in legal terms and with regard to the institutional structure, capacity building for human resources (fishermen, scientists, inspectors, etc.), and the commercial and cultural value of the Comoros’ traditional gear and fish;

  develop its capacities with regard to monitoring and scientific assessment, coastal protection, inspection, surveillance and quality control;

  create or renovate facilities for refrigerating, distributing and processing fish;

  construct and upgrade landing and security infrastructure at ports and harbours;

  promote the renewal of the small-scale fleet to improve safety, ability to remain at sea and fishing capacity.

The rapporteur takes the view that sustainable fisheries agreements signed by the EU with third countries must be mutually beneficial and prioritise action to strengthen third countries’ sovereignty over their fisheries, the development of related economic activities and protection for maritime resources, fishing communities and fishery workers. This type of development, and not the impoverishment of resources, is the most effective and fairest way of combating IUU fishing.

The rapporteur further requests that the European Parliament be informed immediately of any future developments in this process.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (21.2.2018)

for the Committee on Fisheries

on the draft Council decision denouncing the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros

(2017/2266(INI))

Rapporteur: Norbert Neuser

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas the latest Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA), which expired on 31 December 2016, was endowed with a financial envelope of EUR 600 000 a year, of which EUR 300 000 were earmarked for the support of the fisheries policy of the Comoros with a view to promoting sustainability and sound management of fisheries resources in its waters;

B.  whereas illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing affecting coastal areas in the Comoros has detrimental effects on local fisheries and biodiversity, threatening the income and livelihoods of small-scale fishers, the food security and the sustainable development of the Comoros and ultimately exacerbating poverty;

C.  whereas maritime resources are not unlimited; whereas the African continent loses billions of dollars each year to IUU fishing;

D.  whereas, according to the FAO, illegal fishing accounts for some 26 million tonnes of fish per year, or more than 15 % of the total catch worldwide; whereas illegal overfishing undermines the regeneration of fish stocks, threatens biodiversity, the marine ecosystem and food security and causes significant economic losses;

E.  whereas the sustainable management of marine ecosystems is crucial in limiting the harmful effects of climate change; whereas the COP21 has emphasised the urgency of reversing the trend of overproduction;

F.  whereas the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) incorporated, for the first time, a goal related to the conservation and sustainable use of seas and marine resources (Goal 14);

1.  Is aware that IUU fishing is a major economic and environmental problem worldwide, in both marine and freshwater fisheries, threatening the sustainability of fish stocks and food security, and the biodiversity of the world’s oceans; stresses that IUU fishing also undermines fisheries management efforts and constitutes unfair competition for fishers, in particular from artisanal fleets, and others who operate in accordance with the law, with serious social, economic and environmental repercussions; notes that high levels of IUU fishing tend to be more frequent in countries with weak governance;

2.  Emphasises that developing countries are particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing due to their limited capacity for control and surveillance of their waters, which further destabilises the management of their fisheries; highlights that IUU fishing deprives developing countries of revenue and food, particularly when these activities take place in the same fishing grounds where small-scale local fishers operate;

3.  Welcomes the EU’s zero tolerance policy towards illegal fishing worldwide;

4.  Regrets that contrary to the sectoral support provided for under the Protocol to the FPA, the Comorian authorities have failed to take appropriate measures to establish a national register of fishing vessels and to draw up and implement a robust national action plan and legal framework against IUU fishing in Comorian waters and by Comorian-flagged vessels, which has led to the Comoros being identified as a non-cooperating country under the IUU Regulation;

5.  Regrets that in addition to the Comorian administration’s lack of capacity to tackle IUU fishing, the Commission reported a lack of governance/insufficient political will from the Comorian national authorities to cooperate;

6.  Calls for the capacity of developing countries to be strengthened in administrative matters, but also in resource mapping and evaluation; calls, furthermore, for measures to help them draw up reliable and objective statistics, contributing to the formulation of policies and strategies in the economic sphere and as regards monitoring and the protection of legal fishing;

7.  Recalls that the Comoros has a duty, under the FPA signed with the EU and other international instruments, as well as within the framework for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, to respect the principles of good governance in fisheries and responsible fishing, maintain fish stocks and preserve the marine ecosystem in its exclusive economic zone;

8.  Recalls in particular SDG 14, target 4, which aims to effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, IUU fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics;

9.  Calls on the Commission to pursue its political and fisheries sectoral dialogue with the Comorian authorities, leading to the fulfilment by the latter of the provisions under the IUU Regulation and, ultimately, to the removal of this country from the list of non-cooperating countries; calls, in the meantime, for the assistance received by the Comoros under other EU financial instruments to be reoriented so that the population does not pay the cost of this state of affairs;

10.  Emphasises that fisheries control authorities worldwide should be provided with sufficient resources (human, financial and technological) to enable them to fully implement fisheries laws and regulations;

11.  Is convinced that the fight against IUU fishing requires a multilateral approach and greatly depends on a coherent response at international level, including from flag states, coastal states, port states and market states; takes the view that this response should be based on the uniform application of international law and regulations on IUU fishing and on an extensive and accurate exchange of information; calls on the international community to take similar measures to those adopted by the EU to close markets to IUU-caught fish.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

20.2.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

21

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Ignazio Corrao, Mireille D’Ornano, Nirj Deva, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Maria Heubuch, György Hölvényi, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Arne Lietz, Norbert Neuser, Vincent Peillon, Cristian Dan Preda, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Eleftherios Synadinos, Eleni Theocharous, Paavo Väyrynen, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Anna Záborská, Željana Zovko

Substitutes present for the final vote

Thierry Cornillet, Paul Rübig, Rainer Wieland

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

21

+

ALDE

Thierry Cornillet, Paavo Väyrynen

ECR

Nirj Deva, Eleni Theocharous

EFDD

Ignazio Corrao, Mireille D’Ornano

GUE/NGL

Lola Sánchez Caldentey

PPE

György Hölvényi, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Cristian Dan Preda, Paul Rübig, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Rainer Wieland, Željana Zovko, Anna Záborská

S&D

Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Enrique Guerrero Salom, Arne Lietz, Norbert Neuser, Vincent Peillon

Verts/ALE

Maria Heubuch

1

-

NI

Eleftherios Synadinos

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention


INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

27.2.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

20

0

2

Members present for the final vote

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Alain Cadec, David Coburn, Linnéa Engström, João Ferreira, Sylvie Goddyn, Mike Hookem, Carlos Iturgaiz, Werner Kuhn, António Marinho e Pinto, Gabriel Mato, Norica Nicolai, Liadh Ní Riada, Ulrike Rodust, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Remo Sernagiotto, Isabelle Thomas, Ruža Tomašić, Peter van Dalen, Jarosław Wałęsa

Substitutes present for the final vote

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, José Blanco López, Nicola Caputo, Ole Christensen, Rosa D’Amato, Norbert Erdős, John Flack, Elisabetta Gardini, Jens Gieseke, Anja Hazekamp, Maria Heubuch, Czesław Hoc, Yannick Jadot, France Jamet, Seán Kelly, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Linda McAvan, Francisco José Millán Mon, Nosheena Mobarik, Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, Rolandas Paksas, Daciana Octavia Sârbu, David-Maria Sassoli, Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez, Nils Torvalds

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Liliana Rodrigues


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

20

+

ALDE

António Marinho e Pinto, Norica Nicolai

ECR

Peter van Dalen, Remo Sernagiotto, Ruža Tomašić

ENF

Sylvie Goddyn

GUE/NGL

João Ferreira, Liadh Ní Riada

PPE

Alain Cadec, Norbert Erdős, Carlos Iturgaiz, Werner Kuhn, Gabriel Mato, Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Jarosław Wałęsa

S&D

Clara Eugenia Aguilera García, Liliana Rodrigues, Ulrike Rodust, Isabelle Thomas

VERTS/ALE

Linnéa Engström

0

-

 

 

2

0

EFDD

David Coburn, Mike Hookem

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

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