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Parliamentary questions
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13 March 2008
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-0139/2008

Recital 16 of Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 of 20 December 2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the common fisheries policy(1) sets out the principle of relative stability of fishing activities by the allocation of fishing opportunities among the Member States, based on a predictable share of the stocks for each Member State. Recital 17 of that regulation establishes that given the temporary biological situation of stocks, the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities should be safeguarded as decided by the Council in its Resolution of 3 November 1976(2). Such safeguards are the so-called Hague Preferences.

The application of Hague Preferences concerns the sharing of total allowable catch (TACs) among Member States and are therefore to be addressed by the Council.

The main objective of the common fisheries policy is to ensure the exploitation of living aquatic resources that provides sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions.

There are situations where this objective is not reached, because total allowable catches have to be set at lower levels and consequently the quotas shared out between the Member States are below a minimum level of access to the stocks, which was agreed upon in the past for Ireland and the United Kingdom. It is in these situations that the United Kingdom and/or Ireland, who are the beneficiaries of the Hague Preferences, ask for the application of The Hague Preferences. The application of this system for some stocks will then result in smaller reductions in quotas for either or both Ireland and the United Kingdom. On the other hand all other Member States to whom the system of Hague Preferences does not apply, experience higher quota reductions.

The overall priority is to rebuild stocks to a high level so that higher and more stable catches can be taken from them. If this can be attained, Hague Preferences will generally not be needed.

In order to achieve this, the Commission insists on the need for good control and inspection of fisheries, correct reporting of catches, good provision of data for scientific advice and responsible decision making with stakeholder participation.

(1)OJ L 358, 31.12.2002.
(2)OJ C 105, 7.5.1981.

OJ C 291, 13/11/2008
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