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Tuesday, 14 February 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

3. Multi-annual plan for western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel - TAC and quotas regulation for 2012 - Contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the joint debate on the following oral questions:

- the oral question to the Council on the state of play regarding the proposed multi-annual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel and the fisheries exploiting that stock, by Carmen Fraga Estévez and Pat the Cope Gallagher, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries (O-000308/2011 – B7-0023/2012),

- the oral question to the Commission on the state of play regarding the proposed multi-annual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel and the fisheries exploiting that stock, by Carmen Fraga Estévez and Pat the Cope Gallagher, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries (O-000309/2011 – B7-0024/2012),

- the oral question to the Council on measures in the total allowable catch (TAC) and Quotas Regulation for 2012 exceeding the scope of Article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, by Gabriel Mato Adrover, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries (O-000016/2012 – B7-0032/2012),

- the oral question to the Commission on measures in the total allowable catch (TAC) and Quotas Regulation for 2012 exceeding the scope of Article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, by Gabriel Mato Adrover, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries (O-000017/2012 – B7-0033/2012),

- the oral question to the Commission on the contribution of the common fisheries policy (CFP) to the production of public goods, by Maria do Céu Patrão Neves on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Marek Józef Gróbarczyk, on behalf of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Ulrike Rodust, on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, (O-000004/2012 – B7-0029/2012),

- the oral question to the Commission on the contribution of the common fisheries policy (CFP) to the production of public goods, by João Ferreira, Patrick Le Hyaric, Willy Meyer and Jacky Hénin, on behalf of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (O-000029/2012 – B7-0038/2012).


  Pat the Cope Gallagher, author. − Mr President, the main purpose of this debate is to trigger an exchange of views in plenary regarding the powers of Parliament and the Council as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty provides additional powers in the area of fisheries to the European Parliament under Article 43(2), and the establishment of long-term multiannual plans is a core pillar of the reform of the common fisheries policy. We must find a solution together with the Council for all future management plans.

In relation to horse mackerel, the management plan for horse mackerel is based on the implementation plan agreed by the Commission at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. At the summit the Commission agreed to maintain or to restore the stock to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield. The subsequent proposal by the Commission was drafted in close cooperation with the Pelagic RAC, which had originally put forward a proposal.

Egg surveys for horse mackerel have been conducted every three years since 1977. However, the data collected was insufficient to allow scientists to make a full assessment of the health of the stock. The proposed management plan addresses these difficulties by establishing a formula for vessels in the horse mackerel fishery known as the Harvest Control Rule. This rule provides a mechanism for calculating an additional ceiling of maximum allowable landings of horse mackerel harvested from the defined area. The plan was expected to come into operation in 2009 but was delayed by the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. In November 2010 Parliament adopted my report by an overwhelming majority: 651 in favour and 15 against.

There were two principal issues which proved to be contentious when Parliament reviewed the dossier in 2010. Parliament overturned a previous decision to split the stock into two zones, separating area 8C located in the Bay of Biscay. It was correct to do so, as the scientific advice is clear on this matter: this is one stock which covers the entire geographical area. So as a compromise an amendment was adopted which states that the plan shall be implemented, taking into account artisanal fisheries and historical rights. This amendment was acceptable to the Council at the time and to the Pelagic RAC.

The other contentious issue referred to the Harvest Control Rule. In 2010 I met with representatives of the Belgian Presidency prior to the adoption of the report by the Committee on Fisheries. The Presidency suggested a proposal which provided the Council with a degree of flexibility in terms of the total removable amount when setting the total allowable catch in relation to the Harvest Control Rule. The proposal put forward by the Belgian Presidency was subsequently adopted by this Parliament.

So there are varying views between Parliament and Council on the Harvest Control Rule. However, the legal advice from our services is very clear. Multiannual plans are a fundamental and core aspect of the fisheries conservation tool provided for under EU law, and must be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure via Article 43(2). Regrettably the Council is yet to adopt the first reading. However, I understand that the Danish Presidency is currently pursuing a proposal put forward by their predecessors before Christmas.

The delay has forced the committee to raise this matter in frustration in plenary, and hopefully progress can be made. I appreciate that all parties are working together in good faith in an effort to progress on this important dossier.

In recent weeks informal contacts have commenced once more with the Council, which I welcome. I hope that all three institutions will take a pragmatic and a sensible attitude going forward. I believe that this will enable us hopefully to have trialogues and a second reading. I shall do all possible, in conjunction with the shadow rapporteurs, the Fisheries Committee, the Commission and the Council, to reach a satisfactory conclusion which may not necessarily – and I repeat that, may not necessarily – create a precedent for other management plans.

Can I now don for one minute my Irish cap, as I have dealt with my position on fisheries? I want to refer to the haddock quota. I take the opportunity to raise an extremely important matter which has emanated from the December Council meeting where the ministers agreed to a 200% increase in the haddock quota in area 6A off the North-West.

There has been an explosion of haddock, so Annex 3 to the Council Conclusions calls on the Commission by emergency measures to adopt the necessary catch composition requirement by mid-February to allow the fishermen to avail themselves of an increased haddock quota. It appears, however, that trawling will be the only fishing gear that may be used, and many of the small in-shore and small island and coastal vessels use gillnets which are more environmentally-friendly than any other type of gear. I therefore appeal to the Commissioner to use her influence to ensure that gillnets will be permitted under the emergency measure. Otherwise an amendment to the technical conservation measures regulation will be needed which will have to go through the co-decision procedures.

Finally, I refer to the concept of regionalisation. Measures such as the approval of gillnets are a prime example for regionalisation. These decisions must in future be taken at local level and not national level. In relation to the other matter, I confirm that we will work closely together to try and move on within the next number of weeks or months.


  Gabriel Mato Adrover, author. (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, Minister, please believe me when I say that, with this being my first speech before this House as chair of the Committee on Fisheries, I would rather not have had to make it, because we are not only going to talk about fishing, total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas – although these are very important – but also issues of jurisdiction.

The question I asked on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries relates to the Treaty of Lisbon and how it should be applied in the area of fisheries policies, and, as I said previously, this goes much further than an isolated discrepancy. It concerns the undertaking by the three institutions – Parliament, the Council and the Commission – to accept the rules of the game that we agreed upon, based on the premise which underlies the Treaty: to take appropriate decisions, each according to its responsibilities, in the interests of the citizens of Europe.

There is no doubt that the new Treaty has made major changes to the decision-making process for fisheries policy, and understandably it is going to take time to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the new procedures operate correctly and in full. However, unfortunately we have learned from experience in the two years since the Treaty came into force that the Council and, in some cases, the Commission continue to deliberately – or so I believe – put up obstacles in an attempt to prevent Parliament from exercising its new prerogatives. This is unacceptable.

Parliament cannot accept under any circumstances that the Council should continue to operate as if nothing had changed, as if Parliament were a mere bystander and the Treaty of Lisbon and the new division of competences had never existed. Minister, Commissioner, whether you like it or not, Parliament cannot be excluded from making decisions on fisheries policy, whether internal or external. These are not my words, they are the Treaty’s.

Now, once again, following the Commission’s proposal, the Council has sought to exceed the scope of Article 43(3) of the Treaty, quite unacceptably in our view, in an attempt to exclude Parliament’s voice from the decision-making process.

The procedure laid down in this article clearly refers to the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities, that is, decisions on TACs and quotas, and to these two aspects alone – not to a whole series of other measures for achieving the objectives of the common fisheries policy, which would be covered by Article 43(2).

As is stated in the preamble to the question, technical measures, such as prohibition or restricted zones and periods, restricted fishing depths and specific requirements related to fishing gear can in no way be interpreted as falling under the remit of Article 43(3).

Parliament’s position is quite clear. We have been stating it for some time now: you cannot take a broad interpretation which is in clear contradiction with any exceptional status. Our reaction, in various dossiers, has always been to seek proportionate measures. We clashed over the Venezuela–French Guiana dossier, when the Council decided to forge ahead without Parliament’s consent. We had no alternative than to go to the European Court of Justice. Also when we opposed the Council’s blocking of long-term plans for hake and anchovy; we disagreed and we chose the first reading to try to negotiate seriously with the Council for a second reading.

In terms of TAC and quota regulations we have been even more tolerant, if that is possible. It has not escaped our attention that what was adopted in 2010 and 2011 – in both cases on the basis of Article 43(3) – was done incorrectly. We continued to insist that sufficient time should elapse before the Council and the Commission could take joint decisions and were operating correctly. However, now of course we realise that in this case they are introducing a recital on certain conditions, functionally linked to the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities, when clearly the concept of associated conditions, formerly covered in Article 20 of the Regulation, has been explicitly omitted from the new Treaty.

The Members of the European Parliament thought that we should allow some time to elapse. However, we are – and I say this clearly – most disappointed because in 2012, three years after the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, there are still major discrepancies between what the Commission proposes and what the Council approve, on the one hand, and what the Regulation states on the other. In my view, neither institution has given any indication that it is willing to abandon this broad interpretation of Article 43(3) for once and for all, and adopt another procedure that is more respectful of Parliament’s prerogatives.

To conclude, there is unanimity among groups, coordinators and all the Members. We have made our approach very clear in our oral questions and I would like the Commission and the Council to answer the questions we have put to them today just as clearly.


  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, author.(PT) Mr President, Commissioner, it is in the context of the reform of the CFP that this question for oral answer is being asked on a resolution on the contribution of the common fisheries policy (CFP) to the production of public goods.The reform should start considering a holistic understanding of fishing and also of the crisis in Europe, which requires the contribution of all social and professional sectors, including fishing, if it is to be effectively overcome.

The objectives of this motion for a resolution are clear. The first is to demand recognition for the multifunctional nature of fisheries. This involves raising awareness that fishing is not merely the traditional activity of extraction, processing and trade since, on top of these aspects and their socioeconomic value, fisheries also play an important role in terms of, inter alia, history, culture, recreation, science, energy, the environment and education. It thus produces public goods to which society is entitled and which should be taken into account for CFP funding.

A second objective is to put forward the notion of conditionality; that is, positive discrimination for anyone providing proof that they have implemented best fishing practices, whether in the fishing gear used, the rejection of illegal fishing, or in efforts to reduce by-catch. A further effect of this measure will therefore be to make ship owners and fishermen work more closely together on surveillance and monitoring procedures.

A third objective is to demonstrate how fishing itself, and as part of a wider maritime policy, contributes to the Rio+20 Summit goals of job creation and poverty elimination, and to the Europe 2020 strategy, promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth through its increasingly scientific basis, ecosystem structuring and professional training. Only this renewed, holistic, modern conception of fishing can turn it into a true engine of development, which is slowly reaching the coastal areas of the Member States surrounded by sea, such as Portugal, and maritime regions like islands and, in particular, the outermost regions, such as the Azores. We cannot demand anything less of the upcoming reform.


  Ulrike Rodust, author. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, what are we dealing with here today? We are trying to adopt multi-annual plans for our fishing stocks in order to bring an end to overfishing in our seas.

Multi-annual plans are the key tool in our fisheries policy. The fish in question today, the Atlantic horse mackerel, is just one example of many. We aim to produce management plans for all commercially fished species. Almost exactly 16 months ago, we were here in the House and Parliament adopted its position on this multi-annual plan. We have had the attempt to negotiate with the Council. Unfortunately nothing came of the talks, as the fisheries ministers within the Union apparently would like to work without involving Parliament when it comes to important issues. Over the past 16 months, the Council has not budged an inch. It has demonstrated complete obstinacy, a quality that is not a bad one to have in politics, but in this case it is scandalous. The Council has ensured that there are absolutely no new long-term management plans in place. It is as if the tug of war between the institutions were more important than a sensible policy for our fishermen, for our environment and for our citizens. If we want people to be satisfied with the European Union, we must deliver results. In the area of fisheries policy, we have not done that for two years now.

In the past, European fisheries policy was in the sole hands of the Council of Ministers. Unfortunately, the result was a disaster. That the ministers should now have the idea of continuing to make policy without Parliament’s involvement seems, against that backdrop, to be something of a bad joke! If we were to actually negotiate with one another about the reform of the common fisheries policy the citizens of the European Union would also observe who was going into bat for a progressive policy and who was putting the brakes on.

Ministers, please take a look at yourselves and then manoeuvre yourselves out of this dead end as soon as possible.


  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk, author.(PL) Mr President, the common fisheries policy has tremendous significance and impact on local fishing communities as a common good. Tradition, culture and the passing down of the fishing profession through the generations have been features of European history since time immemorial. Fishing is one of the oldest economic activities undertaken by humankind and its importance goes beyond economic considerations. To date, implementation of the common fisheries policy has been an overwhelming disaster, not only as regards the environment, since stocks are not at the level they should be, but also in terms of protecting the fishing sector and communities, which now find themselves in a particularly difficult situation.

Special attention should be paid to small-scale fishing because of its cultural and social value, and also because it is a source of income for small family undertakings that create many jobs on the labour market. In certain parts of Europe fishing is the only source of income and the only way of providing for families. In my view, the future of small-scale fishing is uncertain and gives rise to many concerns, for example the sale of individual fishing quotas. Another very important factor is competitiveness. When this amounts to setting small-scale fishing against huge processing conglomerates, together with unrestricted liberalisation of the market, it heralds a bleak future. What is most important, however, is handing traditions down through the generations and passing on the knowledge, skills and spirit that are integral to the fishing profession. I should like to ask the Commissioner what action she intends to take to make fishing a more attractive profession, and what strategy she plans to adopt to encourage the younger generations to take it up.


  João Ferreira, author. (PT) Mr President, Commissioner, in addition to the strategic importance of the fisheries sector for the public fish supply and for the food balance of the Member States, it also contributes significantly to the socio-economic welfare of coastal communities, local development, employment, and the maintenance and creation of economic activities and jobs both upstream and downstream of fishing itself.

The European Union common fisheries policy has thus far neglected the importance of the multi-functional nature of the sector and, with it, the so-called ‘production of public goods’. The deep economic and social crisis that affects the fisheries sector, – the result of a policy whose central tenet has in many cases consisted merely of the indiscriminate decommissioning of vessels – is jeopardising the release and full use of the sector’s huge potential in numerous areas, including the economic, social, historic-cultural, scientific, educational and environmental, among others.

The question, Commissioner, is whether the current reforms proposed for the CFP will contribute to changing this picture or whether, on the contrary, they will maintain it or even aggravate it. Unfortunately, the signs so far from the Commission are not only discouraging, but worrying. The defence of an increasingly market-oriented CFP and the progressive removal of public support structures – the overall philosophy that inspires the reforms – ignores the fact that the market does not recognise, or remunerate as it should, many of the so-called ‘positive externalities’ at a social and environmental level for which parts of the fleet that are less competitive from a strictly economic viewpoint are responsible.

In the general context of the fisheries sector, small-scale coastal fishing and artisanal fishing, segments that make up the bulk of the industry in many Member States, are known to be of particular importance for multi-functionality and the production of public goods. Yet the importance of this segment of the fleet is not sufficiently recognised by the Commission proposal. On the contrary, the Commission uses a definition of small-scale fishing that is reductive and disconnected from reality, at the same time that it proposes a modification of the CFP management system based on the creation, mandatory in all Member States, of a system of transferable individual concessions that is likely to seriously damage small-scale coastal fishing and artisanal fishing and, with them, the multi-functionality of the sector and the production of public goods.

If this system goes ahead, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it does not, not one, I repeat, not one of the safeguard clauses already proposed by the Commission will prevent the inevitable concentration of the activity among operators with greater economic and financial might, firstly on a national scale, and then inevitably, sooner or later, on a European scale. It would be yet another significant factor in the decline of numerous fishing communities dependent on fishing.

These are trends that must be halted and reversed. There are other paths, alternative paths that will make it possible to reverse the decline of the sector and lead the way towards the full use of its tremendous potential. This path involves proposals such as linking the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to other instruments, particularly cohesion policy, to promote economic and social cohesion within those coastal communities most dependent on fishing; support for economic activities associated with fishing, both upstream and downstream of it; and the diversification and not the substitution of fishing activities, with the development of complementary activities. Projects with integrated solutions that benefit all coastal communities as widely as possible should be preferred over those that benefit only a limited number of operators. Access to these projects should be guaranteed to fishermen and families and not only to ship-owners.

Other proposals include measures to rejuvenate the sector and encourage more young people to take up the occupation, by providing support to meet their professional training and start-up needs, among other things; the promotion of land-based activities; the recognition and promotion of the role of women in fishing; and the creation of an EU programme to support small-scale fishing that, by using several tools, particularly at a financial level, will respond to the specific problems of this segment and support sustainable, local management of the fisheries involved.

These are just some of the many proposals in our resolution that we believe the current reform should take on board, for the sake of the recognition of the multi-functional nature of the fisheries sector and the production of public goods.


  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council. − Mr President, let me first take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Mato Adrover on his election as Chair of the committee. Unfortunately my colleague, the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Ms Mette Gjerskov, was not able to be here today. However it is a pleasure for me to take part in this important debate on fisheries. I would like to address the different issues raised one by one.

On the horse mackerel multi-annual plan, the Council shares the view expressed previously by Ms Fraga and today by Mr Gallagher on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries that the establishment of long-term management plans is key to conservation. That is why the Council has adopted 10 such plans since 2003 covering many, if not most, of the major stocks in the Union waters.

I am pleased to inform you that the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the Council made considerable progress last November on a way forward on the proposed multiannual plan for the stock of western horse mackerel. I understand that Ms Fraga, Mr Gallagher and the shadow rapporteurs were informed of the outcome in early December. Against this background the Council will now be in a position to examine in full Parliament’s positions in first reading, and to that end work is beginning this week. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Members for their positive and pragmatic approach and I hope that results can be achieved.

I turn now to the proposed plan for the anchovy stock in the Bay of Biscay, which was also raised by the Honourable Members. The Council position is that this plan is not in line with the Treaty. The Council, at the level of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, therefore asked the Commission in the autumn of 2010 to withdraw the proposal. The Council has not discussed the plan since then.

The Council agrees that long-term management plans are one of the key elements of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. That is why it has made such an effort to unblock the situation for the plan for western horse mackerel. The Council is fully committed to cooperating with Parliament and the Commission to agree on a way forward. We are ready to work with you on this plan and on other long-term and management plans which are at the centre of conservation and of the reform of the common fishery policy.

I now turn to the issue of total allowable catch and quota regulation and begin by thanking Mr Mato Adrover for his question on the adoption of the 2012 fishing opportunities. I would like to start by restating that the Council continues its commitment to adopt measures that are fully in line with the relevant legal provisions. I strongly believe that this commitment is also reflected in the adoption of fishing opportunities for 2012.

The Commission presented two proposals for adoption of measures on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities for 2012, one on the internal aspect and the other on the external aspect. The Commission based its proposal on Article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, under which the Council shall adopt measures on a proposal from the Commission on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities.

The Council consistently agreed with the Commission’s choice of legal basis for the following reasons. The Council considers that Article 43(3) represents a self-standing specific legal basis that applies to clearly identified measures to be adopted under the Common Fisheries Policy. Furthermore, Article 43(3) of the Treaty speaks of measures which indicate that the authors of the Treaty intended to give the Council powers to adopt all measures that are inextricably linked to the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities. They can only cover measures which have a direct bearing on the quantitative fishing entitlements.

Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that, since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the objectives for the common fisheries policies, including those concerning multiannual plans, must be adopted in the ordinary legislative procedure with agreement between Parliament and the Council. The Council is committed to respecting that.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to a very good debate here in Parliament today.


  Maria Damanaki, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I would like to welcome the presence of the Council here: it is very important for everybody, Minister, to have you in this debate. So, honourable Members, I very much welcome the opportunity to discuss with you some very important issues.

The two first issues concern the new framework we have under the Lisbon Treaty, and I would like to repeat that the Commission is here to cooperate with everybody during this transitional period in order to find practical solutions. I reiterate that it is not the Commission’s aim, Mr Mato Adrover, to go against this House. We are trying to cooperate with everybody, and I think that citizens watching us in the context of the crisis would like to see all the EU institutions cooperating in the best way we can.

Regarding the horse mackerel plan and the long-term management plans in general, I agree with you, Mr Gallagher, and with Ms Rodust and the Presidency of course, that this is an issue of great importance in relation to the sustainability of stocks: it really is a matter of urgency. I agree with you also, Mr Gallagher, because, since this plan was proposed in 2009, we have based all quota proposals on the plan, and today this stock is actually fished fairly sustainably. This, therefore, is the way to go, and we have to be sure that we can secure this approach.

The problem in relation to these long-term management plans is – to cut a long story short – between Parliament and the Council. We need to agree on the respective competences of the two institutions, and this is something we have to do in cooperation, as best we can. So, the Council, Minister, has to do whatever it can to take the right decisions in order to find a solution here, and we need to compromise. We will facilitate this in any way we can.

I would call on you, Minister, to take the decision in the Council as quickly as possible to go for a second reading. The only way to reach a compromise here is to go for the second reading in Parliament and the Commission. I promise here that we will do everything we can to facilitate the procedure but we need an urgent decision from you, the Council, in order to proceed.

Regarding the application of Article 43 of the Treaty, I agree with everybody that the procedure for fishing opportunities is an exception to the ordinary legislative procedure and therefore that it should be interpreted very strictly, and this is exactly what we are doing.

I would like to remind you that, since 2010, the Commission has consistently limited its proposals to fishing opportunities and conditions functionally linked to them. Let me be clear here: fishing opportunities are quantified fishing rights. The Treaty refers to ‘fishing opportunities’. As a matter of principle, a quantified fishing right cannot exist in a void, so – while the Treaty does not refer to TACs and quotas – a TAC area or an allowed fishing season, for example, is necessary for fishing opportunities to work. Let all of us be reasonable here. We are talking about fishing opportunities and we have to respect the Treaties, so these conditions are functionally linked to fishing opportunities as they have a direct bearing on them.

This, then, is our position: we have to cooperate here and we have to find the best way that all three institutions can live together. I do not think we face a power game here, and it is not a matter of the Commission trying to prevent Parliament from exercising its new powers.

In relation to the last item raised by other Members of the House – Mr Ferreira, Mr Gróbarczyk and Ms Patrão Neves – namely, the contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods, I would like to highlight the specific measures provided for under the reform to improve the situation of the fisheries sector and, in particular, of small-scale fisheries and coastal communities. While I do not have time to discuss the whole idea of the common fisheries policy, I would like to focus on this issue of social sustainability.

Healthy stocks support larger catches of bigger fish. We have to realise that the only way to have a healthy fisheries sector is to have healthy stocks. There is no other way. We cannot invent any other way. We can give a lot of subsidies, a lot of money – taxpayers’ money – but if we do not have healthy stocks, then there is no way to have a healthy sector. This is something we all need to understand because healthy stocks can improve profitability and the wages and employment of fishermen, and also of people working in processing; and that is the best way of encouraging young people – whom Mr Gróbarczyk mentioned specifically – to come into the sector. If young people see that there is an income to be earned there, then they will come.

Of course we can do more: I am not shirking my responsibilities, or the Commission’s responsibilities, and I am trying to do more in the framework of my reform proposals. Our funding has an important role to play here. I would underline the fact that we are paying special attention to small-scale fisheries. Why? Because the small-scale sector represents close to 80% of our fishing vessels and around 40% of onboard employment. We are taking special care here, as you can see in our proposal on small-scale vessels. We have recognised the importance of this sector and have made an effort to propose dedicated measures for these fleets.

What are these measures? Business and innovation advisory services and higher aid intensity – and I would ask you not to overlook the latter, which includes a wide range of measures aimed at increasing income by supporting selectivity, marketing, product quality and innovation. We also want to support producer organisations and improvements in working conditions, safety, hygiene and training. We have special measures for all of this in our funding. I also made sure that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has increased funding for the sustainable development of coastal areas. In our impact assessment we came to the conclusion that the EMFF could result in around 12 500 additional full-time jobs in the sector.

Honourable Members, you rightly call for attractive jobs. I can understand the situation. I really can understand the situation of fishermen and their families and of coastal communities in the middle of the economic crisis, so I am determined to deliver on your demand, and I am convinced that together we can get it right. Your proposals are very welcome and I will try to my best to adopt all possible measures to give our small-scale fisheries and our coastal communities a future.


  Guido Milana, on behalf of the S&D Group.(IT) Mr President, my remarks are intended directly for the Commissioner and the Minister. Commissioner, a year and a half ago, I urged you to act courageously as, in doing so, you would have had the support of Parliament. Now it seems to me that, instead, the idea prevails that Parliament is a sort of deadweight, a frill, in the procedures and that the Commission often prefers to take a stance that differs little if at all from the Council’s, which avoids having a genuine relationship with Parliament.

Today, we are debating the reform of the common fisheries policy. Parliament is asking questions, while ministers are already mediating the Commission’s proposal. This goes beyond the application of Article 43(3). We must really reinstate the principle that the Treaty of Lisbon conferred on Parliament, and I believe that on this point, we must take a cultural leap in our relationships, rather than work in fine detail, trying to grasp whether we are on the right track by following this or that procedure. This is a different problem. I believe that we are still not aware of the role that Parliament can play when it comes to the fisheries sector.

Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we shall vote on the report that has been presented to us in a distinguished manner this morning by Ms Patrão Neves. If Parliament supports it, this resolution will immediately draw very important lines in the sand for the coming reform.

I am not absolutely persuaded by the proposals regarding the socioeconomic aspect of the proposed reform. They effectively amount to driving the workforce out of the sector, not about finding alternative employment. I believe that here too we must take a culturally different direction. The list of issues you have drawn up is really short, as it does not set out a scenario for substituting fishing by some other occupation, where, say, aquaculture or tourism could have a key role.

I believe that these measures have simply been relegated to a question of transferable rights, which, Commissioner, give absolutely no guarantee of a socioeconomic application for the reduction in fishing, because …

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Chris Davies, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I am sorry that some Members have still not understood the concept that if there were no fish there would be no jobs for fishermen. This debate is important because it sets a precedent for the future, for the setting of long-term management plans – which has been recognised as crucial to the whole reform of the common fisheries policy – and showing that we have sustainable fish for the future.

The Minister has referred to Article 43(3) of the Treaty, which says that the Council should adopt measures on fixing quantitative limitations and the allocation of fishing opportunities, but Article 43(2) says that the European Parliament, in partnership with the Council, shall establish the provisions necessary for the pursuit of the obligations of the common fisheries policy. Clearly there is a dispute and a lack of clarity here. Whatever other disputes there may be amongst Members of this Parliament, I suspect we will mostly be united on standing up for the position of Parliament as we see it in the Treaty.

It is not as though the Council has a very good record to defend. We know that its application of Article 43(3) has been abysmal, involving annual meetings which are notorious even amongst former fisheries ministers. These are gladiatorial contests where ministers come to stand up for national interests, over-fishing and setting limits. According to the University of York’s latest estimates, over the past few years these have exceeded best scientific advice by 33%, with the result that we have seen too much over-fishing and a decline in fish stocks across the European Union.

Looking to the future, we all recognise that long-term management plans are key. I think it is important that we also recognise the urgency of this. If we are to achieve maximum sustainable yield by 2015, we have got to get the reformed fishing regulation through as quickly as possible, and the Commission is going to have to come forward with long-term management plans in rapid succession, which must clear the parliamentary process in rapid succession. We have to keep delays to a minimum, so this matter must be resolved.

I welcome the fact that the Danish Presidency has this high on its agenda and I thoroughly support the Commissioner in what she is saying, which is: let us go for a second reading, let us have our debate, let us make absolutely clear what are the lines of difference between the Council and the Commission, and then let us negotiate. This will be resolved by negotiation between the two institutions. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can put in place the measures necessary to ensure that we have healthy fish stocks for the future.


  Isabella Lövin, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, everyone agrees, it seems, that in the future common fisheries policy long-term management plans should be the basis of management. This failure to come up with a solution for anchovy and for horse mackerel – for two years now the institutions have not really come up with a solution – could be interpreted by citizens as proof that the EU institutions are not mature enough or efficient enough to deal with even such relatively simple questions. These issues need to be resolved for the EU to be credible in its reform of fisheries policies. We need to put this dispute on competences into perspective in relation to the real issue here, which is that we have the responsibility to defend and optimise what is really a public good – fish and the marine environment.

This leads me to the second topic of this debate, the contribution the CFP makes to the common good. Let us be honest here. Technology advances all the time and fishermen become more and more efficient at fishing, which means we need fewer fishermen today to catch the same amount of fish as were caught yesterday. Employment in the catching sector in Europe today accounts for less than 0.1% of the total EU labour force and half of these licensed fishermen are only fishing part-time. Any increased employment in the sector must involve things other than being more efficient at fishing. This could be ‘pesca-tourism’, it could mean adding value to catches in different ways, but one thing is for sure, if increased employment is what we want then we cannot promote more efficient fishing methods, including giving funds to fuel-efficient engines.

I would also like to point out that it is a proven fact that over-fishing promotes algal blooms in Europe, causing lots of problems for different sectors. Fish in aquaculture pens die because of it, fishing gear gets clogged by it, and tourists seek other destinations when they cannot swim because of the green pea soup. A low estimate puts costs in Europe caused by algal bloom at EUR 177 million per year. When we speak about fish as a common good it is very important to keep in mind the different functions of wild fish in our oceans. One is to provide food, but another much more important one is that fish are crucial agents in the marine ecosystems. When we deplete stocks, water quality suffers and thereby many other economic sectors in Europe, such as tourism, do so too.


  Struan Stevenson, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, I am sure that the focus of the world today is not on the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel. However, it has become iconic in terms of the log-jam that has developed between this House and the Council.

I absolutely agree with the interpretation that Commissioner Damanaki has placed on this. We are in accord between Parliament and the Commission on the correct legal basis and our approach to this particular resolution, but this has been jammed now for over three years. Since the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty we have had no movement at all from the Council, and Chris Davies is absolutely right in saying we are looking to the Danish Presidency to sort this out.

We need multi-annual plans for a future sustainable fishery in European waters, so horse mackerel has to be sorted out: break the log-jam and then let us get ahead with a proper way of working between the three EU institutions.


  John Bufton, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, the report released by the Court of Auditors last week laid bare the failings of the common fisheries policy. EUR 1.7 billion has been wasted since 2002 in vessel decommissioning, which has failed to demonstrate any tangible result as the CFP cannot specify where overcapacity exists. Instead, 90% of stocks are now overfished – 30% beyond safe biological levels. On top of that, 100 000 jobs have been lost.

The Prince of Wales’ think-tank, the International Sustainability Unit, specifies that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. Management of stocks must be dynamic and localised. Devolving control of waters to local level would create an incentive for fishermen to maintain resources in the long term, as they would directly profit from the proliferation of their own stock. The British fleet is permitted to catch only one-fifth of the fish in UK waters. The sense of husbandry was lost when EU waters were carved up to serve a range of foreign vessels. Short-term profit is the only focus for a boat that has travelled far from its own coastline to fish.

The report also highlights the importance of managing the marine ecosystem as a whole, rather than targeting individual species, which can have a knock-on effect on other stocks. Only through locally managed real-time area closures can we rebuild an ecologically sound, profitable fishing industry. Through restoring the UK share of fish stocks alone, the industry could also employ 46% more people and make an extra GBP 400 million – equivalent to 24 times the UK annual subsidy. Subsidies artificially reduce the cost of fishing, allowing it to continue beyond the point of profitability.

Norway and Iceland are leading examples of successful redirection of subsidies and management of stocks. They, of course, are not in the EU. In Iceland, spawning rates have doubled. I am sure that if everyone appealed to common sense and examined the Commission’s track record they would agree that the best way of protecting the ocean for future generations and safeguarding national fishing industries is to take control out of the hands of the European Union.


  Diane Dodds (NI). - Mr President, over the past two years the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council and others have exuded a great deal of energy in the development of a multiannual plan for the western stock of horse mackerel. They are understandably upset that their efforts are being frustrated by a failure to implement the plan, a situation which is being blamed by some on the ongoing game of ping-pong between the EU’s institutions, namely this Parliament and the Council.

The development of long-term management plans is the way forward for Europe’s commercial fisheries. The absence of such a plan was one of the reasons given for the imposition of a 10 % cut in Irish Sea herring for 2012, although I must say that this was also a moveable argument over the course of these negotiations in the weeks and months before it. However, this plan is now being fast-tracked.

I hope that the positive, scientific assessment on Irish Sea herring, together with the advice contained in the plan, will be reflected in a mid-year decision to increase the TAC to a level reflecting the current state of the stock.


  Alain Cadec (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, Minister, ladies and gentlemen, for once I agree with Mr Davies: no fish means no fishermen.

The situation regarding the multi-annual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel is of concern to us today for several reasons. This management plan was adopted by Parliament in November 2010 in order to ensure that stocks would be managed sustainably. Since then, Parliament is still awaiting the Council’s first reading. It is therefore crucial for the Council to take a stand on this plan.

As long as the situation remains at a standstill, nothing will be done about Atlantic horse mackerel stocks and the resource will be under threat. This deadlock is due to an institutional conflict which must be resolved as quickly as possible. Like my fellow Members, I believe that the management plan comes under the ordinary legislative procedure. Parliament showed that it was open to discussion by introducing flexibility with regard to the method of calculating fishing opportunities. The Council must now explain why it has not taken a stand on this matter at first reading. This deadlock is also delaying progress on related issues such as that of the anchovy, as well as all future multi-annual plans for adoption.

We also call for the Commission to facilitate dialogue between Parliament and the Council. On the eve of the common fisheries policy (CFP) reform, under which management plans must be applied across the board, we must haul ourselves out of this institutional deadlock which is detrimental to the conservation of resources.

Moreover, with regard to Ms Patrão Neves’s initiative, I naturally share his concern that the fishing sector be considered as contributing to the production of public goods and that the principle of conditionality be applied.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to remind you again that we are in Strasbourg, which is the only seat of the European Parliament according to the Treaties.


  Kriton Arsenis (S&D). - Mr President, fishing does not happen in a void. It happens within our seas and is based on fish stock availability. Thus, having more fish is about fishermen’s income and about securing jobs. That is why the show that we put on for the Council, each time we have to make and put forward our decisions on TAC quotas and multiannual plans, is really misplaced. In the midst of this European debt crisis we always take the decision to fish, to consume more now and create debt for the future.

In the reform of the common fisheries policy Parliament will be asking for fisheries reserves, so as to add this discussion an element seeking to reassure people that there will be fish available and that there will be more fish in our seas, more easily fished by our fishermen, both for our fishermen and our coastal communities, and for our common future. I have just seen a description of what Parliament will be asking for, namely that fishery reserves are areas where we do not fish, where we leave the stocks to be revitalised and come back to their original numbers. And around them we can catch more fish much faster and more easily.


  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE). - Mr President, over the lifetime of the CFP the Commission and the Council have gathered ever more powers to themselves. They have extended the remit of the December Council far beyond deciding upon fishing opportunities. Now the Commission and Council are taking a restrictive approach in interpreting the Lisbon Treaty to allow themselves to continue with these centralised powers and, worse, to claim that the Treaty prevents a radical approach to decentralisation.

My constituents in the fishing nation of Scotland will not be impressed if CFP reform does not sweep away the failed practices which have so discredited the European Union’s role in fisheries management. If environmental and social sustainability is to be achieved, I think that decentralisation has to be at the top of the agenda and that returning real management power to fishing nations would ensure that those with most to gain from successful conservation would have, for the first time, the incentive to make it happen.


  Anna Rosbach (ECR).(DA) Mr President, Commissioner, Minister, I support the questions that have been raised, but I do not want to talk about interinstitutional battles and horse mackerel.

A great deal has changed in the fisheries sector over the last 20 years. There are now far fewer active fishermen, but the fishing industry helps to create new jobs in other sectors. There are good opportunities in the small fishing communities for tourism and teaching as well as the supply of speciality products to local restaurants. The fishing industry contributes both to the cultural heritage of the local area and to general development in coastal areas. Fisheries must coexist with biodiversity and the marine environment. Aquaculture needs to be developed, for example by cultivating shellfish and algae for bioethanol, cosmetics and medicines. We must also fish out any waste and take care of the coastal marine environment.

We therefore need clarification of how the Commission and the Council currently intend to incorporate the added value provided by the sector into the reform of the common fisheries policy.


  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). - Mr President, the best conservation measure would be for the UK to withdraw from the EU and regain exclusive control of our fishing grounds. Overfishing is the direct result of access to our waters by other Member States. Our default position is opposition to any common fisheries policy.

However, it would be churlish not to recognise the improvements that some of the proposals would bring. The end to the discard policy is welcome but long overdue. The return of unwanted fish that are likely to survive, the counting of other unintentionally caught adult fish towards quotas, and the selling of accidentally caught undersize fish for pet food and fishmeal are all reasonable proposals within the context of the common fisheries policy. But why has it taken so long for the EU to address the obscene discard policy? We are told that the policy will end in 2016. Will it really? And why has it been so long in coming?

For as long as we remain in the EU, the total allowable catch figures and the number of days at sea allocated to the UK must reflect the fact that we provide a massively disproportionate amount of the total fishing grounds and the stock of fish.

When it comes to Community aid to the fishery sector, our fishermen, such as those in Whitby, Hull and Grimsby, do not receive fair treatment. Our fishing sector gets only 3% of the aid, whereas Spain gets 26%, and Poland 17%. Our tonnage is just under half that of Spain, and our total catch is about three quarters. Even Romania, whose main catch is goldfish, gets more aid than the UK.


  Jim Higgins (PPE).(GA) Mr President, firstly I have a question for the Commission. Is the Commissioner ready to recognise that there is more to the common fisheries policy (CFP) than just catching fish, but that the CFP can add to the socio-economic life of coastal communities in terms of local development and creating jobs – directly and indirectly – in the sector?

For example, the majority of the fishing industry in Ireland is situated around the coast in remote communities which usually have no other industry, in places, for example, in which Irish is the community’s first language and in which aspects of the native culture are intertwined, for example music, dance, literature and other cultural pursuits. That is the socio-economic aspect I am emphasising.

Finally, I would like to say in my strongest words – and I speak here on behalf of the Irish MEPs – that we cannot accept the TACs (Total Allowable Catches). They would destroy the fishing industry and there is no doubt that that will happen if TACs are adopted. We cannot accept them.


  Dolores García-Hierro Caraballo (S&D). (ES) Mr President, Minister, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I am not going to raise the issue of competences, because previous speakers have made it clear that the codecision procedure has applied since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force. Therefore, it is you who are responsible for bringing a multi-annual plan before this House on the measures needed to ensure that horse mackerel is fished in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way.

Back in 2009 the Swedish Presidency had already promised that the Council would put forward an immediate plan in 2010. It is now January 2012 and we still only have one report in which – although it has been said that it broadly expresses the Commission’s opinions, and I agree – Spain cannot see any acknowledgement of one of its main concerns, which is how zones and fisheries are defined in the multi-annual plan.

Because in Spain we eat horse mackerel: we do not use it for fishmeal. It is a fresh fish that is eaten the same day, and which involves, in addition to the environmental sustainability of ...

(The President cut off the speaker)


  James Nicholson (ECR). - Mr President, Mr Mato’s question to the Council and the Commission quite rightly asks why the institutions are adopting year-on-year measures on tax and quotas as well as technical measures concerning restricted zones and depths. This is clearly a very broad interpretation of the legal basis for decisions which should only concern the ‘fixing’ and allocation of fishing opportunities.

Parliament has been excluded from the negotiations on these issues; this is clearly contrary to the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty. As we enter into a period of fisheries reform the Council and Commission will have to adopt a more constructive approach and attitude to Parliament.

In my own region the outcome of the recent Fisheries Council in December 2011 meant a 25% cut in the cod quota in the Irish Sea, among other cuts in stocks such as for herring. These developments will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the industry. The Common Fisheries Policy must go down the road to regionalisation.

The current micro-management of our waters is having a devastating effect on our fisheries industry. Brussels must realise one suit does not fit everyone and get on with the job and get the problem solved. That is the message the Council has to take away from here this morning.


  Lambert van Nistelrooij (PPE).(NL) Mr President, Commissioner, the questions being asked this morning indicate that, in whatever steps we as Parliament are about to take, we want to become more directly involved and to fulfil our legislative role with all seriousness. This applies to the text, the quota, as much as to the regulation. I am the rapporteur for the general regulation on the five funds and the questions seem to me to be heading in the right direction.

I would like to bring up one point today. As a Parliamentary representative of the Netherlands, I think back to what happened following the throwing out, at such a late stage, of the agreement with Morocco. The Spanish fishermen have claimed that this has harmed their trade and that they should be compensated from the Fisheries Fund. The same applies to Dutch fishermen. We are speaking of over EUR 5 million in lost income, and the question is whether the Fisheries Fund can similarly compensate us Dutch. It is a technically complicated question, but one that has been very much raised by those who elected me. A Spanish solution should surely be a Dutch one too. As the proverb says, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Could you please answer me on this?


  Antolín Sánchez Presedo (S&D).(ES) Mr President, fishing is about more than just supplying high-quality protein: it is a way of life. Therefore, the reform of the common fisheries policy is an indicator of the European Union’s commitment to sustainability. It should be a reform with a holistic dimension encompassing economic, social, regional and environmental aspects.

Two out of every 1000 jobs in the European Union are in the fisheries sector. In communities such as Galicia, this percentage is 15 times higher. It is therefore imperative to provide better jobs and an efficient, high-quality sector. It is also necessary for the sector to play a part in developing sustainable fishing and promoting development of the local area and fishing communities.

In terms of the environment, we need to preserve resources, ecosystems and biodiversity. We need to encourage good environmental practices, singling out not only small-scale fishing but also aquaculture, with extensive and traditional activities, and all this needs to be done within the framework of an integrated maritime policy.

There are many aspects – and the most important thing is to recognise that fishing is a multi-sectoral and multi-functional activity – and all of these need to be taken into account when reforming fisheries policy so that it can add value to the sector within the European Union.


  Werner Kuhn (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the debate about the sustainable management of the Atlantic horse mackerel is, of course, also a welcome opportunity to discuss what shape the common fisheries policy should take for the next 10 or 20 years. As we do so, we need to observe that what has been the practice up to now – fleshed out by appropriate implementing regulations from the Commission and its officials – did not prove its worth in all areas.

That does not mean, however, that we should throw those instruments that are tried and tested overboard. I am thinking, in that context, of relative stability, so that there is clarity about how quotas are distributed, so that we do not have an appreciation of value of quotas and total allowable catches (TACs) that are then left in the bank but instead see an exchange of quotas in individual sea areas. What we havehere is, in fact, a key question which relates to how we deal with our resources in the seas as a whole when it comes to discards, or fish that are thrown back. We need to find a solution for this issue.

The same also applies when we discuss how resources are frittered away. If we look at our stocks of birds of prey or seals, these are reserves that we in Europe cannot frivolously give away when we are an enormous market of 500 million inhabitants, who consume 8 million tonnes of fish and fishery products.

We are an enormous import market and for that reason we really must provide a future for coastal fishing and small-scale fishing in particular. Thus, we must include a means within our common fisheries policy of financially supporting young fishermen starting up new businesses, , who ultimately wish to take on a licence or a boat. We are already doing thisfor young farmers.

Similarly, we must not always discuss this matter in such dogmatic terms and simply repeat a refrain of ‘For goodness’ sake, no investment in the fleet!’ No, that is wrong. Some of the boats in our fleet are 60 years old and powered by outmoded diesel engines. These are the worst polluters of the environment, and we are not spending a single penny on renewing the fleet. I believe that this is an issue that we absolutely need to discuss.

In modern fishing, quotas must obviously be in proportion to engine power, and of course we need reasonable monitoring of fishing. However, if we publish multi-annual plans – for example for cod in the Baltic – and the Commission and its officials then come out and say that there need to be additional controls to ensure that even small, open boats, without a wheel house, keep a logbook …

(The President cut off the speaker)


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, it is clear from the debate here this morning that there is a lot of work to be done and that a great deal of cooperation will be required among Parliament, the Council and the Commission to discuss this issue and to take it to the second reading, as the Commissioner said. The sooner it happens, the better for the quantity of fish in the sea and for the fishermen’s way of life. Also, I commend my Irish colleague Pat the Cope Gallagher for the great work he always does on this issue.

I have a few brief points to make. I agree completely with the points made regarding the need for regionalisation, the preservation of coastal areas, the gillnets to which Mr Gallagher referred, the danger of transferable fishing concessions (TFCs) and the absolute desirability of eliminating discards. If we can address all that ...

(GA) we will have made great progress.


  Phil Prendergast (S&D). - Mr President, there is more to the fisheries sector than catching and processing fish: it brings numerous social, economic and cultural benefits to communities in Europe. The fishing sector now includes both the coastal tourism sector and aquaculture. The opening up of our coastal towns to fishing tourism generates direct and indirect employment opportunities worth promoting. Many fishing towns can be quite isolated, and by targeting coastal tourism and aquaculture, the Common Fisheries Policy can make such communities sustainable.

You can board a charter vessel to experience the thrill of sea fishing – in my constituency you can do this in Cork harbour for example – and various other tours allow people to hire small boats and go out to sea themselves to fish. Other tours bring people to fish off the wrecks of sunken ships. Small fishing communities cannot be assessed purely in economic or catch value terms. They often have a rich cultural heritage and vibrant gastronomic, economic and literary identities.

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). - (ES) Mr President, when the Council formulates European policy it needs to do so in an open, transparent and participatory way.

Those were the principles we applied in the anchovy plan which was adopted by Parliament. However, the Council has chosen to follow an antiquated policy, maintaining the status quo, in an obscurantist way, without acknowledging the role of Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty and taking decisions on criteria which are not always in tune with the interests of the fisheries sector or of society as a whole. Meanwhile, the Commission says nothing.

They have to change the way they operate. If they do not, they will continue to enmesh themselves further in the political crisis they have created by their own actions. In the 21st century one leads, one does not command, yet you veto. You negotiate amongst yourselves, but authority and legitimacy should be obtained by consent.

Stop blocking this and other plans. Recognise the role of Parliament, because the challenge is to build the future of the fisheries sector together.

I am sorry to tell the Council and the Commission this, but despite their fine words today, they have disappointed me.


  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE). - Mr President, I come from a fisheries nation, Galicia, where we have important fisheries communities and our economy and culture is very linked to the sea. We are very worried about the social and economic aspects of the reform of the fisheries policy, especially the implications for small-scale fisheries.

How can the Commission realise concrete measures to help small-scale fisheries, and especially the women and men working in fisheries communities? Small-scale fisheries are an example of social, territorial and economic cohesion and are also more ecological, but the sector is very concerned about the conservation of fish on account of the pollution of waters. We had the Prestige in Galicia and ...

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Ricardo Cortés Lastra (S&D). - (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, we are facing a deep economic crisis that affects the fisheries sector. The Commission has been telling us that fishing is now sufficiently sustainable.

Well then, Ms Damanaki, we need fair fishing quotas, especially for species like mackerel and anchovy. We need to look at the allocation of quotas more carefully so that it does not have a detrimental effect on many European regions, including my region, Cantabria.

For this we need all these multi-annual plans. There are thousands of fishermen waiting for these institutional squabbles to be resolved. Fishing is a key, fundamental and competitive sector that has always sought to find a balanced solution that combines meeting the needs of fishermen and safeguarding fish stocks.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure.


  Maria Damanaki, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I share all the concerns of Members of Parliament with reference to the fisheries sector, coastal communities and the need to be sure about growth and jobs. I was in Vigo, Galicia yesterday and I saw there what is happening, so I can understand everything you are saying.

What can we really do? I agree with those Members of this House who stressed that, in order to achieve social sustainability, we need healthy stocks. I would like to remind some Members of this House of what has been happening up until now. In the past decade 30 % of jobs in the catching sector have been lost. So asking me to keep the status quo is not an option. We are going to lose more jobs. We have to change things. We have a proposal. You may disagree, but at least this is a proposal to move forward. We have to have discussions and find ways to sustain the stocks because, for example, if we reach maximum sustainable yield by 2015, many jobs will be added to the sector.

I would also like to emphasise that our proposal agrees with what we have already said, namely that fisheries is not only about stocks. It is a multi-sector and we need a multi-sectoral approach. We have ancillary sectors, as many of you stressed – processing, cooking, aquaculture, we have maritime tourism, we have a lot of issues in connection with this – so we have to try to find a balance between all these activities. This is what we are trying to do through our proposal. I hope that we will have the time to discuss it in this House in the proper way.

Many Members referred to the issue of regionalisation. I agree with you that this is of great importance. For example, Mr Gallagher referred to gillnets and the haddock stock. This is an issue we have to handle under codecision for the moment. We need regionalisation because, if we are going to approve the Commission’s proposal – and I know that you are not happy and not satisfied with this proposal, but let me give you this example – if this proposal, our proposal, for reform were in place then the Member States concerned could have these decisions as quickly as possible and the problem of gillnets would be solved. Now we have to go through co-decision.

There are also other issues, such as technical measures – there were a lot of references to these – which we can solve through the proposal as it stands. Of course, if we can improve it we will be happy to have your ideas.

Regarding other points, many references were made to the need for investment in the sector. I agree with you. We have to invest but we have to invest in gear selectivity and in real modernisation of the fleet, not in increasing over-capacity. This will not give us solutions. I would agree with Mr Bufton, who emphasised the importance of the Court of Auditors’ report. Yes, this is a European institution, the Court of Auditors, and I am very happy that you are highlighting the importance of this report. We will respect this report. That is why our proposal referring to subsidies in the sector in the future is aligned to this report.

Regarding the issue of Morocco, which was mentioned, we have taken a decision on Morocco referring to the previous protocol which was stopped by a decision of this House. This is not a Spanish decision but a European decision, so it refers to everybody who has something to do with the clear ideas of this decision.

My last point concerns institutional issues. I have a plea to make to the Presidency. We expect the Danish Presidency to move ahead on this subject. Parliament and the Commission are both expecting the Danish Presidency to move on. It is not enough to refer to the previous achievements of the previous presidencies. The previous presidencies of the Council did not move on this, as almost all the Members of this House pointed out. We need a step forward. At the very least we need an urgent decision in order to go for a second reading and a compromise.


  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council. (DA) Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, thank you very much for this important debate. I would like to begin by thanking Mr Gallagher, Ms Lövin, Mr Davies, Mr Stevenson, Ms Dodds and others for the call to find a solution to this important, but also very difficult, issue concerning the multi-annual plan for the western stock of horse mackerel. The Council has spent a long time determining its position on this matter. However, as I have already said, the Council has made progress in this regard recently, and I expect it to have established its position very soon. The Council’s working group is starting work in this regard this week. The next step is the approval of a negotiating mandate in the Permanent Representatives Committee. After that, the Council will be ready to work with the European Parliament to find a solution to the horse mackerel issue. We will hopefully succeed in finding a solution that is acceptable to the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council.

We all agree that multi-annual management plans must continue to be a fundamental instrument in fisheries management, ensuring a focus on the important long-term conservation objectives for fish stocks. The Council will therefore work with the European Parliament on a solution for the horse mackerel plan as well as for other multi-annual plans. I am therefore in complete agreement with Mr Davies, Mr Cadec and others on the need to ensure sustainable fish stocks. As Mr Davies put it, if there is no fish, there will be no fisheries either.

The Council is fully aware of the European Parliament’s role in connection with the adoption of the objectives in the common fisheries policy, including the objectives for multi-annual management plans and technical conservation measures. These objectives must be adopted jointly by the Council and the European Parliament, and the Council attaches a great deal of importance to its cooperation with the European Parliament in this connection.

With regard to the question concerning the setting of total allowable catch (TAC) and quotas, I would like to emphasise the Council’s strong obligation only to adopt measures that are fully in line with the relevant provisions of the Treaty, whilst fully respecting the role of each institution. It goes without saying that the Council will ensure that the reformed common fisheries policy is in line with the Treaty and that it respects the European Parliament’s prerogatives. This will, of course, also be the case irrespective of what form of procedure we have in the future. It will also apply in the event of a regionalised approach, something which is currently being considered in the context of the reform. On behalf of the Council, I therefore look forward to close cooperation with the Commission and Parliament in finding solutions to the important questions that we have debated today.


  President. − To wind up the debate, seven motions for resolutions have been tabled(1)under Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday from 12.00.




(1) See Minutes

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