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Procedure : 2015/2092(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0328/2015

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PV 14/12/2015 - 18
CRE 14/12/2015 - 18

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PV 15/12/2015 - 4.24
CRE 15/12/2015 - 4.24
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - Strasbourg
A new CFP: structure for technical measures and multiannual plans

European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on a new CFP: structure for technical measures and multiannual plans (2015/2092(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in particular Article 43 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular Articles 7(2), 9 and 10 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0328/2015),

A.  whereas the sustainability of fish stocks is the sine qua non for the future of the fishing industry;

B.  whereas, since 2009, legislative proposals regarding technical measures and multiannual plans have made little headway, partly on account of tensions arising between the European institutions concerning their respective decision-making powers under Article 43 TFEU with regard to Commission proposals in the case of the multinational plans and partly because of difficulties in bringing legislation on technical measures into line with the Lisbon Treaty;

C.  whereas the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013) includes among its objectives restoring and maintaining populations of harvested species above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), using an ecosystem- and selectivity-based approach; whereas technical measures and multiannual plans are among the main tools to achieve these objectives;

D.  whereas the main changes introduced under the 2013 CFP reform also include the landing obligation and regionalisation;

E.  whereas the complexity and diversity of technical measures as well as the fact that they are spread across many different regulations, have contributed to making implementation difficult for fishermen, which risks making fishermen mistrustful;

F.  whereas the principle of regionalisation includes the consultation of the Advisory Councils with the purpose of bringing the stakeholders closer to the decision-making process and of better evaluating the possible socio-economic impacts of the decisions;

G.  whereas the complexity of the technical measures and the difficulties in implementing them, coupled with the absence of any tangible results or incentives under the CFP have contributed to making fishermen mistrustful;

H.  whereas the review of technical measures, in accordance with the best available scientific advice and using an ecosystem-based approach, should seek to improve the environmental sustainability of the fishery and marine resources in a way that is consistent with the socioeconomic viability of the sector;

I.  whereas achieving the objectives of the new CFP requires, among other things, the use of more selective fishing gear and practices;

J.  whereas current innovations that improve the selectivity of fishing gear are frequently hindered by legislation;

K.  whereas the landing obligation involves a substantial change of approach to fisheries management, and to demersal fisheries in particular, and hence to technical measures in key areas such as catch composition and the mesh size;

L.  whereas particular emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of small-scale fishing for the sustainability of coastal communities, and in particular for the role of women and children; whereas the CFP alludes to a differentiated regime for small-scale fishing in Europe;

M.  whereas a general definition is needed for the concept of small-scale fishing, in light of the role it plays in rehabilitating our seas and in preserving traditional and environmentally sustainable practices and trades;

N.  whereas the definition of common basic principles for all sea basins through a framework regulation adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure under the Lisbon Treaty is necessary to ensure the implementation of the CFP objectives in the EU, to ensure a level playing field between operators and to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of technical measures;

O.  whereas the ordinary legislative procedure is not always necessary in the case of measures taken at regional level or subject to frequent changes or which are based on standards and objectives decided by the co-legislators, but must be used for the adoption of rules that are common to all sea basins and also for measures contained in specific regulations or not likely to be amended in the foreseeable future;

P.  whereas regionalisation must ensure that technical measures are adapted to the specific requirements of each fishery and each basin, ensuring flexibility and facilitating a rapid response to any arising emergencies; whereas regionalisation must make technical measures simpler and easier to understand, implement and enforce; whereas the adoption of technical measures on a regional basis should follow the model agreed by the co-legislators as agreed under the reformed CFP;

Q.  whereas regionalisation can help make the rules simpler and more comprehensible, which would be greatly welcomed by the fisheries sector and other stakeholders, especially where they are involved in the adoption thereof;

R.  whereas regionalisation should not lead to renationalisation, this being incompatible with the CFP, for which the EU has sole responsibility, given the shared nature of the resources;

S.  whereas the adoption of technical measures on a regional basis should follow the model agreed by the co-legislators under the new CFP, namely for the Commission to adopt delegated acts on the basis of joint recommendations from the Member States concerned that meet the standards and objectives decided by the co-legislators, or, if the Member States concerned do not submit a joint recommendation within the designated time, on the Commission’s own initiative; whereas, however, Parliament retains the right to object to any delegated acts under the Lisbon Treaty;

T.  whereas the revision of the framework of technical measures should present an opportunity to continue reflecting on regionalisation and to consider alternatives to delegated acts;

U.  whereas certain proposals for specific regulations containing technical measures (concerning driftnets, cetacean bycatches, deep-sea fishing) have proved controversial; whereas some proposals, such as those concerning deep-sea fishing in the northeast Atlantic, have been blocked for over three years; whereas deliberations on driftnet fishing are also deadlocked; whereas a number of specific provisions regarding technical measures have been rejected by the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs);

V.  whereas the technical measures should take account of the phenomenon of illegal fishing which is often accompanied by the illegal use of fishing gear, and should propose an effective solution to the problem posed by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

W.  whereas technical measures applicable in each EU fishing basin are not always adapted to the needs of innovative activities and different local fisheries; whereas, in light of this, fishermen need a set of technical measures based on a regional approach, which correspond to the diverse conditions of each sea basin; whereas the management of fish stocks in a sustainable way is vital and in that respect the simplification and adaptability of the legislation to the realities on the ground is important; whereas it is also necessary to take into due consideration the fact that fishing basins are shared by third countries, with conservation rules very different to those of Europe;

X.  whereas in European waters, and in particular in the Mediterranean, it is vital that the Member States establish the necessary measures and cooperate to identify those citizens responsible for IUU fishing, thereby ensuring that applicable sanctions are imposed and border and ramp checks tightened;

Y.  whereas the multiannual plans adopted between 2002 and 2009 were not all equally effective; whereas new multiannual plans will be adopted under the new rules of the CFP;

Z.  whereas negotiations with third countries must be part of efforts to achieve sustainability;

AA.  whereas CFP reform introduced landing requirements and provided flexibility, exceptions and financial support under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF);

AB.  whereas difficulties in implementing the discard ban in mixed fisheries are likely to arise with choke species;

AC.  whereas, following the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament has joint legislative powers with regard to fisheries, aside from total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas;

AD.  whereas it has, since 2009, been unable to adopt any multiannual plan, proposals having remained deadlocked in Council;

AE.  whereas, within the interinstitutional task force on multiannual plans, the co-legislators recognised the importance of working together on the multiannual plans, so as to find practical solutions, despite differences in the interpretation of the legal framework provisions;

AF.  whereas multiannual plans should provide a robust and lasting fisheries management framework, based on the best and most recent scientific and socio-economic findings, and should be flexible enough to adapt to the evolution of stocks and annual decision making on the granting of fishing opportunities;

AG.  whereas a maximum sustainable yield limit and a deadline for achieving it, a precautionary safeguard trigger mechanism, a minimum target biomass, a mechanism for adapting to unforeseen changes in the best available scientific advice and a review clause were identified as the elements common to future multiannual plans;

AH.  whereas the multiannual plans must set a general objective that is achievable in administrative and scientific terms; whereas they should include long-term stable yields in accordance with the best available scientific advice, something which must be reflected in annual Council decisions regarding fishing opportunities; whereas these annual decisions should be strictly confined to the granting of fishing opportunities;

AI.  whereas the judgment of the Court of Justice of 26 November 2014 in Cases C-103/12 Parliament v Council and C-165/12 Commission v Council concerning the granting of fishing opportunities in EU waters to fishing vessels flying the flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the exclusive economic zone off the coast of French Guiana, establishes a precedent by clarifying the content and the limits of two different legal bases contained in Article 43 TFEU; whereas Article 43(3) may only be used as a legal basis for the granting of fishing opportunities under the TAC and quota regulations;

AJ.  whereas, on 1 December 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in joined Cases C-124/13 and C-125/13 Parliament and Commission v Council regarding Council Regulation (EU) No 1243/2012 amending the long-term plan for cod stocks, confirming that, as Parliament had submitted, given its aim and content, the regulation should have been adopted on the basis of Article 43(2) TFEU through the ordinary legislative procedure with Parliament as co-legislator because it entailed policy choices which affected the multiannual plan and hence were necessary for the pursuit of the CFP’s aims;

AK.  whereas, in the absence of multiannual plans, minimum conservation reference sizes may be modified under discard plans adopted by the Commission in delegated acts on the recommendations of the Member States concerned, or, if the Member States concerned do not submit a joint recommendation within the designated time, on the Commission’s own initiative; stresses the importance of both the protection of juveniles and of following scientific advice when taking decisions on the minimum conservation reference sizes;

AL.  whereas discard plans will play an essential role in view of the changes in fishing techniques and hence in terms of fishing mortality and individual spawning biomass, both quantifiable objectives under the multiannual plans, possibly brought about by modifications in minimum conservation sizes; whereas, modification of minimum sizes through delegated acts would mean changing the principal parameters of the multiannual plans from the outside;

AM.  whereas the co-legislators intended these delegated acts to be of a transitional nature, that were under no circumstances to be applied for more than three years;

AN.  whereas, for the same species, minimum conservation reference sizes may vary from one area to another in order to take into account the specific nature of the species and fisheries; whereas, whenever possible, horizontal decisions for all areas are desirable in order to facilitate monitoring;

1.  Considers that, in order to ensure the implementation of the CFP objectives, future technical measures should be simplified in order to remove any contradiction and/or duplication contained in a clearly structured legal framework and based on solid scientific data reviewed by peers;

2.  Considers it necessary to compile a comprehensive list summarising all technical measures currently in force, in order to obtain a better overview of possible simplifications and deletions in relation to future technical measures;

3.  Believes that technical measures must be reviewed in a bid to implement the objectives of the CFP, improve selectivity, minimise discards and the impact of fishing on the environment, simplify current rules, and increase the scientific base;

4.  Considers that technical measures should be adapted to the specific needs of each fishery and each region, thus helping to improve compliance by the industry concerned;

5.  Maintains that the simplification and regionalisation of technical measures should always be consistent with the real purpose of the technical measures regulation which is the minimisation of unwanted catches and impacts on the marine environment;

6.  Considers that, in order to facilitate the implementation of the CFP rules and to make CFP rules more acceptable to the fisheries sector and other stakeholders and ensure compliance therewith, fishermen must be more involved in decision making, in particular within the Advisory Councils and be given incentives such as support through EMFF and other instruments for innovation, training, equipment and use of more selective fishing gear;

7.  Considers that the new legislative framework will facilitate the further use of innovative fishing gear which has been scientifically proven to both increase selectivity and to have a reduced impact on the environment;

8.  Considers that innovation and research will need to be promoted to ensure that the CFP is properly implemented, in particular as regards the landing of discards, in order to increase selectivity and modernise fishing and monitoring techniques;

9.  Believes that the sustainable use of innovative fishing gear which has been proven to be more selective by independent scientific research should be permitted without restrictions or unnecessary quantitative limitations, governed by legislation and – insofar as further research is concerned – given financial support;

10.  Considers it necessary to maintain the ordinary legislative procedure for the adoption of rules common to all sea basins, including the establishment of standards and objectives for technical measures, including technical measures contained in specific regulations, or for technical measures not likely to be amended within the foreseeable future and considers that the ordinary legislative procedure is not always necessary for measures adopted at regional level or which are possibly subject to frequent changes; is of the opinion that these measures should be evaluated on a regular basis in order to ensure they remain relevant; considers that the judicious use of delegated acts can meet this need for flexibility and responsiveness; recalls, however, that Parliament retains the right to object to any delegated acts under the Treaty;

11.  Recommends that a clear, general European framework for technical measures should be defined, setting out a limited number of major cross-cutting principles; believes that all rules not applicable to the vast majority of European waters should not be included in this general framework but should instead come under regionalisation;

12.  Considers that any measure adopted at regional level should conform to the technical measures framework regulation and be consistent with the objectives of the CFP and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) 2008/56/EC;

13.  Considers that rules regarding technical measures should be established through the appropriate use of the regionalisation process and be based on common centralised principles and definitions, including common objectives and standards to be applied throughout the EU, including a list of prohibited species and fishing gear, a set of specific rules for the larger sea basins and a number of specific technical regulations, all of which would be adopted by ordinary legislative procedure; notes that regionalisation would apply to rules applicable at regional level or subject to frequent changes and should be re-evaluated on a regular basis;

14.  Underlines the need for the new technical measures framework regulation to be clearly worded, which will require a significant clarification effort; consequently requests that the existing technical measures regulations, in particular Council Regulations (EC) No 850/98 and (EC) No 1967/2006, be repealed beforehand in order to bring an end to the proliferation of regulations;

15.  Recalls that as regards delegated acts, pursuant to Article 18 of the Basic Regulation, the Member States may, within a time limit to be set out in the regulation on the technical measures, submit recommendations to the Commission, and that the latter will not be able to adopt any act prior to the expiration of that time limit;

16.  Considers it necessary to assess the suitability, effectiveness and socio-economic implications for EU fleets and for the local communities of specific regulations based on technical measures while respecting the objectives of the CFP and of MSFD;

17.  Believes that the technical measures should include specific provisions on the use of certain fishing gear in order to protect vulnerable habitats and marine species;

18.  Believes that the technical measures should ensure that destructive and non-selective fishing gear is not used, and that the general use of explosive and poisonous substances should be prohibited;

19.  Believes that there is an urgent need to establish a coherent set of technical measures for each of the basins, taking account of the specific nature of each, where Union decisions may have a significant impact on the recovery of fish stocks and the protection of ecosystems and on the sustainable management of shared fish stocks;

20.  Maintains that, notwithstanding the landing obligation, in force since 1 January 2015 and to be progressively applied to fish stocks by 2019, provisions regarding technical measures must be sufficiently flexible to adapt in real time to progress in the fisheries and to provide more opportunities for the fisheries sector to put innovations regarding selective fishing methods into practice;

21.  Believes that the landing obligation constitutes a fundamental change for fisheries, and that the technical measures therefore need to be adapted so as to allow them to implement and facilitate more selective fishing; recommends the following three measures in order to achieve this:

   substantially modifying, or even revoking, the rules governing the composition of catches,
   affording greater flexibility as regards mesh sizes,
   making it possible to hold several types of gear on board;

22.  Takes note of the difficulties arising from the coexistence of the marketing standards laid down by Council Regulation (EC) No 2406/96 and the minimum catch sizes; requests that they be harmonised by the new technical measures framework regulation;

23.  Considers that a review of technical measures should take into account their impact in terms of biological resources conservation, the marine environment, fishing operating costs, and profitability in socio-occupational terms;

24.  Believes that the conservation objective of the technical measures framework regulation could be achieved more effectively through actions aimed at improving supply and demand management with the assistance of producer organisations;

25.  Considers that incidental artisanal fishing in the inland waters of the Member States and regions must remain outside the TACs;

26.  Believes that multiannual plans play a vital role in the conservation of fisheries resources under the CFP, being the most suitable vehicle for the adoption and implementation of specific technical measures for different fisheries;

27.  Believes that the co-legislators must continue to seek agreement on multiannual plans with regard to institutional competences under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and on the basis of the relevant case law;

28.  Believes that multiannual plans should form a robust and lasting framework for fisheries management, be based on best and most recent scientific and socio-economic findings recognised by peers, and be adapted to the evolution of stocks, as well as providing flexibility for annual Council decisions on fishing opportunities; notes that these annual decisions should not exceed the strict scope of the allocation of fishing opportunities, and should, as far as possible, seek to avoid large fluctuations thereof;

29.  Maintains that progress must be made on future multiannual plans for restoring and maintaining stocks at levels above those that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, including an advance timetable, a conservation safeguard trigger, a mechanism for adapting to changes in scientific thinking and a review clause;

30.  Considers that, in order to avoid problems arising from compulsory landings for mixed fisheries, improving selectivity and minimising unwanted catches is necessary; considers that it would be advisable to find ways of using the possibility of adopting flexibility measures and using the scientifically established ranges of fishing mortality to set TACs;

31.  Reaffirms the need to increase the involvement of stakeholders through the Advisory Councils in the formulation and implementation of multiannual plans and in all decisions concerning regionalisation;

32.  Believes that Parliament should give particularly close scrutiny to delegated acts regarding discard plans and reserve the right to object to any if it deems it necessary;

33.  Considers that the transitional validity of the delegated acts regarding discard plans, including changes to the minimum conservation reference sizes, should not in any case exceed three years and should be replaced, where appropriate, by a multiannual plan and that, to that end, multiannual plans should be adopted as soon as possible;

34.  Takes the view that, in the context of regionalisation, decisions on minimum conservation reference sizes for each species should be based on scientific advice; stresses the need to avoid marketing irregularities or fraud that could jeopardise the functioning of the internal market;

35.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

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