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Torek, 22. februar 2005 - Strasbourg Pregledana izdaja

21. Prilov (ribištvo)
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  Le Président. – Enfin, l'ordre du jour appelle la question orale à la Commission (O-0005/2005 - B6-0010/2005) concernant le plan d'action international sur la réduction des prises accessoires.

 
  
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  Morillon (ALDE). Monsieur le Commissaire, le débat qui vient de s'achever vous a montré combien mes collègues et moi-même sommes attachés à cette notion de crédibilité de la politique commune de la pêche, soit pour la renforcer soit – pour certains de mes collègues – pour au contraire la contester.

Dans cette contestation à l'égard de la justification d'une politique commune de la pêche, un des arguments qui nous sont le plus fréquemment opposés concerne la masse de rejets que la réglementation en cours amène nos pêcheurs à effectuer, rejets de poissons qui, la plupart du temps, ne survivront de toute façon pas à leur capture. Ce problème préoccupe notre commission depuis des années, vous le savez bien, et il a amené votre Commission, en accord avec la nôtre, à susciter la mise en œuvre de quelques centaines de projets d'études destinés à trouver si possible une solution. C'est la raison pour laquelle je vous ai adressé cette question orale au nom de la commission que j'ai l'honneur de présider. Il s'agit en effet – et je reprends le texte de cette question – d'un enjeu global et de l'un des principaux problèmes de la pêche, pour lequel il n'existe, à l'heure actuelle, aucun plan international d'action, que ce soit de la FAO ou de quiconque.

L'adoption d'un plan international sur la réduction des prises accessoires s'impose de toute urgence et pourrait jouer un rôle capital dans la réduction des prises accessoires à l'échelle internationale. Bon nombre de scientifiques et d'organisations non gouvernementales de premier plan, spécialistes du milieu maritime, plaident en faveur de l'adoption d'un tel plan sur la réduction. D'ailleurs, plusieurs États membres de la FAO se sont déjà engagés à soutenir une telle proposition lors de la prochaine réunion du comité des pêches de la FAO qui aura lieu en mars prochain. Aucune nation ne s'est pour l'instant engagée à prendre l'initiative d'une telle proposition.

Étant donné que l'Union européenne est une puissance de pêche de premier plan, la Commission européenne est-elle diposée à prendre l'initiative en proposant un plan d'action international sur la réduction des prises accessoires? La Commission est-elle consciente du fait que, si un plan d'action international n'est pas inscrit à l'ordre du jour de la FAO en 2005, il faudra attendre la prochaine session en 2007? Merci, Monsieur le Commissaire, d'avoir accepté de venir répondre à cette question et aux questions complémentaires qui vous seront posées par mes collègues.

 
  
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  Borg, Member of the Commission. I thank Chairman Morillon and the Fisheries Committee for bringing this matter up for debate. It is fitting that we have an exchange of views in Plenary in advance of the opening of the FAO Committee on Fisheries, which is meeting on 7 March. I note that this issue has already been raised in the question submitted by Mrs Attwooll and Mr Davies on behalf of the ALDE Group, to which a written response has been provided, and that I have had the opportunity of replying to a recent letter from Mrs Attwooll in the same vein.

I would like to reiterate that I share your concerns on the severity of the by-catch problem and on the need to take action, both at Community and international level, to address it. There is already a considerable acquis on specific by-catch issues dealt with in various international agreements and other instruments, including standing international action plans. The Community contributes actively to the development and implementation of this acquis, which particularly concerns species that are caught in the course of fishing operations, such as seabirds, sharks, marine mammals and sea turtles.

However, I agree with you that to reduce by-catch and discards of non-target species, there is considerable room for improved international co-operation, and the figures mentioned illustrate the magnitude of the problem and the urgency with which the matter should be considered.

Within the scope of its powers, the Community is already taking action under the common fisheries policy on a number of fronts. Specific measures were reported in the Commission’s reply to the written question submitted by Mr Davies in November 2003 on the by-catch associated with shrimp fisheries. These include: the Action Plan on discards; financial incentives for the use of selective fishing gear under Council Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999; a specific three-year research project under the 6th Framework Programme to develop low-impact, species-selective fishing gears, and to formulate alternative fishing tactics; the setting of by-catch quotas in bilateral fisheries partnership agreements; the obligations to monitor discards for specific stocks set forth in the Data Collection Regulation. Regular efforts are also made to integrate by-catch reduction measures in Community regulations establishing fishing limits through TACs, effort limitations and technical measures.

The Commission is thus convinced of the need to promote a global, comprehensive strategy to deal with the problems posed by by-catch and discards, since such an analysis lies at the core of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. It is important that an internationally agreed set of principles is established that should not only build on the existing international acquis, but go on to integrate and further develop the ecosystem approach in worldwide fisheries management.

Therefore, the Commission is ready to support the development of an international action plan on by-catch and will seek Member States' agreement to convey this position to the FAO and its members during the forthcoming Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting, in particular at the time that COFI’s work programme in the short and medium term is discussed.

The Commission would be prepared to take the lead in the formulation and development of such an initiative if the necessary extra resources required to tackle such a work-intensive task can be made available to it.

 
  
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  Stevenson (PPE-DE), on behalf of the Group. Mr President, few things have come to symbolise the failure of the common fisheries policy more than the spectacle of by-catch. As we see from this oral question, the situation is not unique to the EU. It is a worldwide problem and the Commission can offer leadership on the issue by proposing an international plan of action. I am delighted that this evening the Commissioner has said that he is willing to do that.

First, we need to take action within the EU. It is estimated that fishermen discard up to 2 million tonnes of dead fish into the sea every year within EU waters as a result of high grading or simply because the fish are undersized or out of quota. We have forced fishermen into this destructive and unsustainable behaviour in the name of conservation, so one of the first policies we have to pursue is to insist on all fish being landed. There should be tough penalties for anyone caught discarding fish. This is the policy in Iceland, Norway and the Faroes.

By insisting on everything being landed, the scientists get a much more accurate picture of the size and nature of the catch, enabling more accurate stock recovery measures to be put in place and more rapid action to be taken to close areas where juveniles are being caught. I am well aware that to implement such a dramatic reversal of policy will require sticks and carrots: sticks to hit those who offend and continue to dump dead fish, but carrots by way of financial compensation to the fishermen who land fish they would otherwise have thrown over the side.

The Commission should not panic: it will not have to pay. The fishmeal and fish oil industry are desperate for more raw material. I hope that the unjustified ban on feeding fishmeal to ruminants will soon be lifted, thereby increasing demand. The expanding aquaculture industry is also a major user of fishmeal, so the fishmeal industry will be happy to pay for this material at prices of perhaps up to EUR 70 per tonne. I understand the Commission is keen on this idea and has already identified two trawlers to try out the policy. I applaud Commissioner Borg for this initiative.

 
  
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  Stihler (PSE), on behalf of the Group. Mr President, scientists publish figures on a regular basis showing that the world's fish stocks are at risk and that currently popular fish stocks may face extinction unless drastic action is taken to allow stocks to recover. In the context of declining fish stocks, the problem of by-catch is all the more regrettable. According to the most recent figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 7.3 million tonnes of non-target marine species are discarded globally each year as a result of unselective fishing practices. This figure is truly shocking, and is not far below the EU 15's entire landed fish production in 2002-2003.

Discarding fish has various consequences: biological consequences because the majority are dead or moribund; and economic consequences because small fish produce less profit if sold, and no profit at all if they are discarded and therefore never grow because they are dead. In stock assessment and fisheries management, where discards are an unknown quantity, fishing mortality rates are also unknown quantities.

In 2003 the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report, drafted by Nils Busk, on the Commission action plan to reduce fish discards. The report made many useful suggestions to improve on the Commission's strategy for dealing with the problem of discards. These included calling for adequate data collection to obtain a better, more precise picture of the extent of the problem; finding ways of rewarding those fleets employing more selective fishing gear, resulting in lower discards; and monitoring research findings on alternative fishing gear with a view to improving technical measures such as net mesh sizes and windows. It also asked the Commission to examine how regional advisory councils might be involved.

I welcome the initiatives taken by the Commission on technical measures in recent years. Over the past 10 years the EU budget has contributed EUR 8 million annually to over 400 research projects aimed at increasing gear selectivity, reducing discards or quantifying the impact of fishing on the environment. It is vital that the focus now shifts to by-catch reduction measures.

I believe the Commission recognises that by-catch is a global problem. The next meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization's committee on fisheries in March 2005 offers a valuable opportunity to propose an FAO international plan of action. I welcome the Commissioner's desire to work on this issue and take a lead. Commissioner, I urge you to not allow the opportunity to slip away, because the next meeting is not until 2007.

 
  
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  Attwooll (ALDE), on behalf of the Group. Mr President, on behalf of the ALDE Group, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his very supportive response, which recognises the severity of the by-catch problem and the importance of addressing it internationally as a matter of urgency. We are particularly grateful that he is willing to raise the issue at the meeting of the FAO Committee in March. For, as has already been said, without agreement there in principle, the formulation of any international plan of action would have to wait for another two years.

By-catch is a global problem that requires a genuinely global solution, a genuinely global commitment to tackling it. As Mrs Stihler has said, the FAO data estimates the extent of the problem at 7.3 million tonnes a year.

An international plan of action would not, of course, be the first or only attempt to tackle the problem. Much valuable work is already being done both within and outside the EU. This tends to involve a piecemeal focus on specific fisheries or specific by-catch species. An integrated approach would help support and extend the success of such schemes and crucially prevent displacement of the problem from one area, or species, to another. It makes real sense for the EU to be at the forefront of promoting such an integrated approach. After all, our vessels fish far beyond EU waters. Our actions impact on others as, of course, do the actions of others on us.

I believe, too, that our citizens, like so many citizens across the globe, feel a real sense of responsibility for the stewardship of natural resources. Putting the EU at the forefront of action to prevent this particular kind of wastage would be welcomed by them. I look forward to hearing of the progress made at the meeting and whilst I cannot make any promises as to the outcome, am ready to try to persuade my colleagues to give favourable consideration to any substantiated request from the Commission for a temporary transfer of budgetary resources to allow them to participate fully in the drawing up of such an international plan of action.

 
  
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  Schlyter (Verts/ALE), för gruppen. Jag tackar er för svaret, kommissionär Borg, och önskar er lycka till i kampen i FAO. Ingen tjänar någonting på bifångster. Det är vår skyldighet att hitta metoder att minska dem. Fiskare tvingas slänga fin torsk som fångas utöver givna kvoter, när den fångas som bifångst.

Reglerna skall sättas så att ingen fisk tillåts fångas innan den hunnit reproducera sig minst en gång. En ökad minimistorlek kan för vissa arter bli en vinn-vinn-situation då vi ökar reproduktionen, biomassan och fångsten på lång sikt. Vi måste då se till att maskorna i näten anpassas efter dessa minimistorlekar.

Det är dessutom dags att ägna mer uppmärksamhet på bifångst av icke-kommersiell fisk. Internationellt ökar opinionen mot dessa fångster, framförallt gulliga sjödäggdjur, men även andra arter. Reglerna har fokuserats på kommersiella arter, men för biosystemen och de kommersiella arternas välmående måste vi bevara och skydda även de icke-kommersiella arterna. Ökad selektivitet och forskning om hur man kan minska dessa bifångster är nödvändig. Det är viktigt att i detta sammanhang komma ihåg att om man försöker undvika en art får detta inte leda till ökad bifångst av en annan art. Hittar vi inte en lösning på dessa problem är det snart lika tomt i våra världshav som det är i denna sal i detta ögonblick.

 
  
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  Casaca (PSE). Senhor Presidente, também eu naturalmente tenho que me felicitar pela resposta positiva que foi dada aqui pelo Senhor Comissário Borg à questão tão clara que, em boa hora, a nossa Comissão e aqui, em particular, o nosso Presidente, trouxe a esta Câmara.

Mas eu gostaria de dizer que, para mim, estas chamadas pescas acessórias são, antes de mais, um problema civilizacional. Eu considero uma perfeita barbaridade que se pesquem milhões de toneladas de um animal selvagem e que isso seja feito para coisa nenhuma, morte pela morte, morte por regras burocráticas ou por lógicas industriais que acham que sai mais barato matar muito e aproveitar pouco porque a natureza não tem qualquer valor. É esta a questão fundamental, a questão de dizermos que temos que respeitar a natureza. Nós, naturalmente como qualquer outro ser vivo, utilizamos a natureza e é legítimo que o façamos, mas temos que respeitar a natureza. Não há pesca sustentável sem o respeito pela natureza e isto é talvez o maior símbolo que há do que há de mal na nossa Política Comum das Pescas e, como aliás já aqui foi lembrado, basta olhar para os nossos vizinhos na Noruega e na Islândia - isto não se faz, isto é uma prática que está, de facto, proibida e é absolutamente lamentável que isso não aconteça entre nós.

É muito bom que a Comissão tome esta posição na FAO mas, como já aqui foi dito, não podemos esquecer os dois milhões de toneladas que são mandados fora todos os anos e, Senhor Comissário, permita-me recordar-lhe o seguinte: nós votámos aqui há muito pouco tempo a proibição das redes de emalhar de fundo, que são um método extremamente pouco selectivo - inclusivamente reconhecido pela própria Comissão -, são dos mais predatórios que há e provocam o maior número de pescas acessórias. Essa proibição existe nos Açores desde há imenso tempo, onde nunca antes essa arte foi praticada.

Pois a Comissão não quis saber disso e impôs, foi favorável à reimposição, à liberalização da utilização dessa arte de pesca nas águas dos Açores. Isto é uma manifestação prática de uma atitude que eu acho que é totalmente contrária àquilo que foi dito antes, porque antes de nós falarmos junto da FAO parece-me fundamental termos a certeza de que temos boas práticas no interior da União Europeia.

 
  
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  Borg, Member of the Commission. Mr President, firstly I would like to thank the Members for all their comments and remarks. I will group the interventions into four points.

First, the by-catch problem being a worldwide problem and the question of the Commission taking leadership. As I said in my original response, we are willing to do so but we have to have the necessary resources made available to us because this will be a mammoth task. We will be taking the matter up with the Council in the very short term.

With regard to the forthcoming FAO meeting, the Commission, as I said before, is ready to support the development of an international plan of action on by-catch and again we will seek Member States' agreement to convey this position to FAO and its members during the forthcoming Committee on Fisheries meeting, in particular when the work programme for the short and medium-term will be discussed. With regard to discards, we are actively considering this problem and hopefully we will be coming up with specific proposals soon.

Another point concerned declining fish stocks and by-catch being all the more regrettable as a result. Here I would like to say that one way in which the Commission tries to reduce discards is by improving selectivity by technical measures such as enforcing minimum mesh sizes or closed areas which can limit the catches of juveniles. Other measures such as the use of separator trawls or separator grids can reduce the by-catch of non-target species.

Well-applied technical measures can be effective but they are not without problems. For example, it is difficult to find the appropriate mesh size in mixed fisheries. The minimum mesh size needed to protect juvenile cod, for example, would be too big to catch adult haddock and whiting. Nevertheless technical measures have a part to play.

The Commission intends to revise completely the technical measures regulation in 2005 to follow up its communication on environmentally-friendly fishing. To deal with mixed fisheries the Commission tries to propose TACs to take into account associations between species. This is difficult to do but steps in this direction have already been taken. The Commission has asked ISIS to give its advice on a fisheries basis rather than on a single stock basis. These are the first steps in adopting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.

Another approach advocated by the Commission is to manage the fisheries through effort control rather than rely on individual TACs. In principle it could be used instead of TACs, with fishermen allowed to land all catches, but in practice effort control will usually complement rather than replace TACs.

At the end of 2002 the Commission presented a discard action plan which discussed the problems of discards more fully and the ways in which the problem could be tackled. Following up this plan, the Commission will consult with Member States and the industry during 2005 with a view to initiating a number of pilot projects to eliminate or at least reduce discards in selected fisheries.

My final point concerning RACs is that they can be involved and certainly we find no problem in involving RACS in giving advice on the formulation of such plans.

 
  
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  Le Président. – Merci infiniment, Monsieur le Commissaire. Nous avons à présent épuisé notre ordre du jour.

Je souhaite à tout le monde une excellente fin de soirée.

 
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