Procedure : 2006/0002(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0265/2006

Texts tabled :

A6-0265/2006

Debates :

PV 27/09/2006 - 14
CRE 27/09/2006 - 14

Votes :

PV 28/09/2006 - 7.2
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0383

REPORT     *
PDF 211kWORD 171k
31 August 2006
PE 369.844v02-00 A6-0265/2006

on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a management plan for fisheries exploiting stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea

(COM(2005)0714 – C6-0034/2006 – 2006/0002(CNS))

Committee on Fisheries

Rapporteur: Albert Jan Maat

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a management plan for fisheries exploiting stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea

(COM(2005)0714 – C6-0034/2006 – 2006/0002(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2005)0714)(1),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0034/2006),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0265/2006),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Calls for initiation of the conciliation procedure under the Joint Declaration of 4 March 1975 if the Council intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

6.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Recital 6

(6) The objective of the management plan should be to ensure exploitation of North Sea plaice and sole that provides sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions.

(6) The objective of the management plan should be to restore stocks of North Sea plaice and sole to the precautionary level.

Justification

As a debate has yet to take place concerning MSY exploitation strategies, the objective of this regulation should be to restore stocks. It would be premature to implement an MSY exploitation strategy for these stocks at this stage, and this would also be contrary to the opinion delivered by the Regional Advisory Council and to the measures already adopted for sole in the Western English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.

Amendment 2

Recital 6 a (new)

(6a) Consequently, in drawing up the management plan, account should also be taken of the fact that the high fishing mortality rate for plaice is due to a great extent to the large discard from beam-trawl sole fishing.

Justification

The Commission report does not touch on the problem of the high fishing mortality rate for plaice, which is due to a great extent to the discard from beam-trawl sole fishing.

Amendment 3

Recital 7

(7) Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 requires inter alia that to achieve the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Community is to apply the precautionary approach in taking measures to protect and conserve stocks, to provide for their sustainable exploitation and to minimise the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems. The Community aims at a progressive implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, which contributes to efficient fishing activities within an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry. The present Regulation should aim at providing a fair standard of living for those who depend on fishing plaice and sole in the North Sea taking into account the interests of consumers.

(7) Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 requires inter alia that to achieve the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Community is to apply the precautionary approach in taking measures to protect and conserve stocks, to provide for their sustainable exploitation and to minimise the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems. The Community aims at a progressive implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, which contributes to efficient fishing activities within an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry. The present Regulation should aim at providing a fair standard of living for those who depend on fishing plaice and sole in the North Sea taking into account the interests of consumers. The Community bases its policy partly on the policy recommended by the appropriate Regional Advisory Council (RAC).

Justification

The opinions of the various RACs should be given serious consideration when formulating policy.

Amendment 4

Recital 10 a (new)

 

(10a) In 2006 the Commission will initiate a debate concerning a Community strategy for a gradual reduction in fishing mortality in all major fisheries by means of a communication concerning the attainment of the MSY (maximum sustainable yield) objective by 2015. The Commission will submit this communication to the RACs for their opinion.

Justification

The Commission recently stated that it wished to initiate this debate.

Amendment 5

Recital 10 b (new)

(10b) The Commission's legislative proposal should be preceded by an impact assessment that is based on accurate, objective and comprehensive biological and financial information; that impact assessment should be annexed to the Commission's proposal before 1 January 2007.

Justification

The Commission has not yet produced a proper socio-economic impact assessment on its proposal

Amendment 6

Recital 10 c (new)

(10c) This regulation does not set any limits on the use of beam trawls in fishing for plaice and sole in the North Sea. However, there is a need to reduce the potential negative consequences of the use of beam trawls on ecosystems and the marine environment. Accordingly, immediately after the entry into force of the regulation, the Commission should carry out a study of the impact of beam trawl fishing on ecosystems and the marine environment in the areas where this fishing method is used. On the basis of that study an action plan should be drawn up for the gradual phasing-out of fishing methods and gear which have a negative impact on ecosystems and the marine environment in favour of lower-impact fishing methods and gear.

Justification

It is important to carry out an environmental impact assessment to ascertain the impact of beam trawl fishing on ecosystems and the marine environment. On this basis the Commission will be able to draw up an action plan for the gradual development and introduction of lower-impact fishing methods and gear so as to reduce the impact on the marine environment and reduce discards.

Amendment 7

Article 2

1. The management plan shall ensure the sustainable exploitation of the stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea.

1. The management plan shall ensure that, in so far as the stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea are not already at the precautionary level, they reach that level again.

2. The objective provided for in paragraph 1 shall be attained while maintaining the fishing mortality rate on plaice in the North Sea at a rate equal to or no lower than 0.3.

2. That objective must be attained by gradually reducing the fishing mortality rate for these stocks.

3. The objective provided for in paragraph 1 shall be attained while maintaining the fishing mortality rate on sole in the North Sea at a rate equal to or no lower than 0.2.

 

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multiannual plans.

Amendment 8

Article 3, paragraph 1

1. Each year, the Council shall decide, by qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, on the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for the following year for the stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea.

1. The Council shall decide, by qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, on the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for a period of 3 years for the stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea.

Justification

A multiannual quota will more clearly hold out the prospect of a structural recovery of stocks and will give the fishing industry more reliable information as a basis for planning its operations. Any intermediate problems can be solved by means of measures to reduce fishing effort (e.g. rules on numbers of days at sea).

Amendment 9

Article 3 a (new)

 

Article 3a

 

Legislative measures and three-yearly decisions on TACs

 

1. When the ICES assessment shows that the spawning stock biomass has been returned to the precautionary level or a higher level, the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt a decision by a qualified majority concerning:

 

(a) a target level for fishing mortality in the long term;

 

and

 

(b) a percentage for the reduction of fishing mortality which must be applied until the level of fishing mortality referred to at (a) has been attained.

 

2. On the basis of the target figures and a scientific ex-post assessment, the Council shall decide a TAC for plaice and sole stocks for three years at a time.

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multiannual plans. It also provides for a TAC to be decided for three years at a time which affords a high level of certainty regarding further growth of stocks, while at the same time creating a certain degree of stability for the fishing industry.

Amendment 10

Article 4

1. The Council shall set the TAC for plaice at that level which, according to a scientific evaluation carried out by Scientific Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), is the higher of the following:

1. If the spawning stock biomass of plaice is estimated by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), on the basis of the latest ICES report, to be less than the precautionary level of 230 000 tons, the Council shall set a TAC for a period of 3 years. This shall be set in such a manner that, according to the STECF's estimate, there is a reasonable likelihood that stocks will be restored to the precautionary level in 3 years.

(a) that TAC whose application would result in a 10% reduction in the fishing mortality rate in its year of application compared to the fishing mortality rate estimated for the preceding year;

 

(b) that TAC whose application would result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.3 on ages 2 to 4 in its year of application.

 

2. Where the application of paragraph 1 would result in a TAC which exceeds the TAC of the preceding year by more than 15%, the Council shall set a TAC which is 15% greater than the TAC of that year.

2. If this leads to a reduction of more than 15% in the multiannual TAC, the Council shall decide to implement the reduction in stages, so that the differences between years do not exceed 15%.

3. Where the application of paragraph 1 would result in a TAC which is more than 15% less than the TAC of the preceding year, the Council shall set a TAC which is 15% less than the TAC of that year.

3. If this leads to an increase of more than 15%, a maximum increase of 15% shall be proposed(2).

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multiannual plans and also introduces the element of multiannual TACs. An increase in the three-yearly TAC is limited to 15% even if stocks have grown much more. This is intended to make it possible, in due course, to move gradually towards the application of the MSY principle, after the European Parliament and the Council have decided in favour thereof.

Amendment 11

Article 5

1. The Council shall set a TAC for sole at that level which, according to a scientific evaluation carried out by STECF, is the higher of the following:

1. If the spawning stock biomass of sole is estimated by the STECF, on the basis of the latest ICES report, to be less than the precautionary level of 35 000 tons, the Council shall set a TAC for a period of 3 years. This shall be set in such a manner that, according to the STECF's estimate, there is a reasonable likelihood that stocks will be restored to the precautionary level in 3 years.

(a) that TAC whose application would result in the same proportionate change in the fishing mortality rate on sole as is generated by the application of Article 4(1) concerning plaice;

 

(b) that TAC whose application would result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.2 in its year of application;

 

(c) that TAC whose application would result in a 10% reduction in the fishing mortality rate in its year of application compared to the fishing mortality rate estimated for the preceding year.

 

2. Where the application of paragraph 1 would result in a TAC which exceeds the TAC of the preceding year by more than 15%, the Council shall set a TAC which is 15% greater than the TAC of that year.

2. If this leads to a reduction of more than 15% in the multiannual TAC, the Council shall decide to implement the reduction in stages, so that the differences between years do not exceed 15%.

3. Where the application of paragraph 1 would result in a TAC which is more than 15% less than the TAC of the preceding year, the Council shall set a TAC which is 15% less than the TAC of that year.

3. If this leads to an increase of more than 15%, a maximum increase of 15% shall be decided(3).

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multiannual plans and also introduces the element of multiannual TACs. An increase in the three-yearly TAC is limited to 15% even if stocks have grown much more. This is intended to make it possible, in due course, to move gradually towards the application of the MSY principle, after the European Parliament and the Council have decided in favour thereof.

Amendment 12

Article 6, paragraph 2

2. Each year, the Council shall decide by a qualified majority, on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, on the maximum number of days at sea available for Community fishing vessels deploying beam trawl gear of mesh size equal to or greater than 80 mm and subject to the system of fishing effort limitation referred to in paragraph 1.

2. For each year of the three-year period, the Council shall decide by a qualified majority, on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, on the maximum number of days at sea (calculated in kilowatt-days) available for Community fishing vessels fishing for plaice or sole or catching them as by-catch and subject to the system of fishing effort limitation referred to in paragraph 1.

Justification

The maximum number of days at sea should be decided for types of fishing in which plaice or sole are caught, either deliberately or as by-catch. This accords with the approach opted for in the cod recovery plan.

Amendment 13

Article 6, paragraph 3

3. The annual adjustment of the maximum number of days referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article shall be in the same proportion as the annual adjustment in fishing mortality rate provided for in accordance with Article 5(1).

3. The maximum number of days referred to in paragraph 2 must be related to the reductions in the fishing mortality rate provided for by the multiannual TACs decided by the Council.

Justification

The reference to the fishing mortality rate in Article 5(1) is no longer appropriate. There should be a relationship with the fishing mortality rate which accords with the multiannual TACs.

Amendment 14

Article 6, paragraph 4 a (new)

 

4a. In adopting this management plan for fisheries exploiting stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea, the Council decides that Community fishing vessels which are used for demersal fishing for flatfish should no longer be subject to the days-at-sea rules provided for by the recovery plan for cod.

Justification

As there may be Community fishing vessels which fall under both this regulation and the regulation relating to the recovery plan for cod, the Council should have the option of clarifying which days-at-sea rules apply.

Amendment 15

Article 8, paragraph 1

1. By way of derogation from Article 5(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2807/83, the permitted margin of tolerance, in estimation of quantities in kilograms live weight retained on board of Community fishing vessels that have been present in the North Sea shall be 8% of the figure entered in the logbook. In the event that no conversion factor is laid down in Community legislation, the conversion factor adopted by the Member State whose flag the vessel is flying shall apply.

1. By way of derogation from Article 5(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2807/83, the permitted margin of tolerance, in estimation of quantities in kilograms live weight retained on board of Community fishing vessels that have been present in the North Sea shall be 10% of the figure entered in the logbook. In the event that no conversion factor is laid down in Community legislation, the conversion factor adopted by the Member State whose flag the vessel is flying shall apply.

Justification

For purposes of practical application, a margin of tolerance of 8% would be confusing.

Amendment 16

Article 9

The competent authorities of a Member State shall ensure in respect of landings made by any Community fishing vessel that has been present in the North Sea that:

The competent authorities of a Member State shall ensure that any quantity of plaice exceeding 200 kg and any quantity of sole exceeding 100 kg which has been caught in the North Sea is weighed before its first sale.

(a) all quantities of plaice and sole landed by any Community fishing vessel carrying on board any quantity of plaice exceeding 500 kg or of sole exceeding 300 kg are weighed;

Weighing shall be undertaken using scales that have been certified as accurate within a reasonable margin of tolerance by the competent authorities of the Member State.

(b) the weighing of plaice and sole is carried out in the presence of controllers and before transportation from the point of landing and before first sale;

 

(c) weighing is undertaken using scales that have been certified as accurate within a reasonable margin of tolerance by the competent authorities of the Member State.

 

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multiannual plans. It will also prevent unnecessary bureaucracy and obviate measures which require subsequent monitoring.

Amendment 17

Article 9

The competent authorities of a Member State shall ensure in respect of landings made by any Community fishing vessel that has been present in the North Sea that:

 

The competent authorities of a Member State shall ensure that each quantity of plaice exceeding 200 kg and each quantity of sole exceeding 100 kg caught in the North Sea is weighed before first sale in accordance with current European rules.

(a) all quantities of plaice and sole landed by any Community fishing vessel carrying on board any quantity of plaice exceeding 500 kg or of sole exceeding 300 kg are weighed;

Weighing shall be undertaken using scales that have been certified as accurate within a reasonable margin of tolerance in accordance with Community legislation by the competent authorities of the Member State.

(b) the weighing of plaice and sole is carried out in the presence of controllers and before transportation from the point of landing and before first sale;

 

(c) weighing is undertaken using scales that have been certified as accurate within a reasonable margin of tolerance by the competent authorities of the Member State.

 

Justification

This amendment brings the regulation into line with other similar multi-annual plans. It also prevents unnecessary bureaucracy and measures which would have to be subsequently verified.

Amendment 18

Article 11, paragraph 2

2. Containers holding plaice or sole shall be stowed separately from other containers.

2. Plaice and sole shall be stowed in separate fish boxes.

Justification

The original text suggests that there are various separate storage places on fishing vessels.

Amendment 19

Article 13 a (new)

Article 13a

 

Action plan for the development and use of low-impact fishing methods and gear

 

Immediately after the entry into force of this regulation, the Commission shall carry out an in-depth study of the impact of beam trawl fishing on ecosystems and the marine environment in areas where this fishing method is used.

 

Based on the conclusions of this study, the Commission shall draw up an action plan to promote research into low-impact fishing methods and gear – including research on the size and shape of nets, which can ensure the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources – and the development of such research. At the same time, this action plan shall set guidelines for the gradual phasing out of fishing methods and gear which have a negative impact on ecosystems and the marine environment in favour of lower-impact fishing methods and gear. Initiatives under this action plan shall be financed from the European Fisheries Fund in accordance with the objectives of the Fund.

Justification

The regulation lacks a section on the development and use of low-impact fishing methods and gear, hence the addition of this article. To secure sustainable fishing in Europe, low-impact methods and gear need to be developed and introduced, with a view, inter alia, to reducing discards and thus reducing the fishing mortality rate for fish such as plaice. Funding may be obtained from the European Fisheries Fund, since the objectives of the Fund are in line with the aims of such research.

Amendment 20

Article 15

In the event that the STECF advises that either or both the spawning stock size of plaice or that of sole is suffering reduced reproductive capacity, the Council shall decide by qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission on a TAC for plaice that is lower than that provided for in Article 4, on a TAC for sole that is lower than that provided for in Article 5, and on a number of days at sea that is lower than that provided for in Article 6.

In the event that the STECF advises that either or both the spawning stock size of plaice or that of sole is suffering reduced reproductive capacity, the Council may decide by qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission on a TAC for plaice that is lower than that provided for in Article 4, on a TAC for sole that is lower than that provided for in Article 5, and on a number of days at sea that is lower than that provided for in Article 6.

Justification

As different options are referred to here, a choice is possible.

(1)

OJ C ... / Not yet published in OJ.

(2)

Translator's note: Amendment 7 has 'voorgesteld' (proposed) here, while Amendment 8 has 'vastgesteld' (decided). It has not proved possible to ascertain which was intended.

(3)

Translator's note: see footnote to Amendment 7.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In terms of strategy, the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a management plan for fisheries exploiting stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea accords with the European policy of seeking to establish a sustainable Community fisheries policy. It is a logical follow-up to the measures to restore sole stocks in the Western English Channel and the Bay of Biscay (COM(2003)0819).

The Commission rightly states in its explanatory memorandum on the proposal that the North Sea Regional Advisory Council (NSRAC) is the principal forum for advice relating to the proposal. The NSRAC comprises representatives of the fishing industry and, inter alia, environmental organisations.

It is striking that the Commission acknowledges that the NSRAC is the principal advisory forum but never subsequently refers to the NSRAC's opinion. The only evidence on which the proposal is based is opinions delivered by two technical advisory bodies: the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).

In view of trends in plaice and sole stocks in the North Sea, it is right that the Commission should propose a management plan. But ignoring the opinion of the main forum where the Commission can consult the fishing industry and environmental organisations is surely a prime example of why the gulf between Brussels and residents of the European Union has grown so wide. Forums such as the NSRAC were established precisely in order to ensure that policies formulated in Brussels were not all too often produced 'about you, without you'.

Thus, in totally ignoring the NSRAC, the Commission has missed an opportunity to generate support for its own policy. The NSRAC has shown that it is perfectly possible even for fishing and environmental organisations and biologists to agree on practicable ways of conserving adequate stocks of plaice and sole. For example, an ex ante scientific calculation based on the NSRAC opinion concerning immediate, short-term measures relating to plaice (July 2005) showed that, by implementing the NSRAC proposals, the intended aim of restoring plaice stocks to well above the precautionary level within 3-5 years by reducing fishing effort was virtually certain to be achieved (RIVO, 2006).

The Commission has also missed another opportunity in that the current proposal differs from previous decisions to restore sole stocks in the Western English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. Credible policies are marked by consistency and a constant approach and ensure that regions are not treated in different ways.

Finally, your rapporteur has an objection to the Commission proposal based on an issue of principle. The proposal is based on the MSY objectives. However, the development of MSY exploitation strategies has yet to be debated by the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission has indicated that it wishes to initiate this debate in the first half of 2006(1). In your rapporteur's opinion, it is premature to implement a method which has not yet been agreed within Parliament and the Council and to do so does not accord with the Community principle of 'good governance' as set forth in the relevant white paper.

For these reasons, your rapporteur has formulated amendments which:

-          ensure consistency of policy, bringing the proposal into line with management plans and multiannual plans in other sea areas for the same species,

-          take account of the opinions of regional forums in which both the fishing industry and nature and environmental organisations are represented,

-          are intended to restore plaice and sole stocks in the North Sea to the precautionary level before implementing an MSY exploitation strategy in one way or another.

On behalf of the European Parliament, your rapporteur therefore urges the Council and Commission to amend the ultimate Council decision in accordance with the amendments adopted.

(1)

COM(2006)0103, p. 10.


PROCEDURE

Title

Proposal for a Council regulation establishing a management plan for fisheries exploiting stocks of plaice and sole in the North Sea

References

COM(2005)0714 – C6-0034/2006 – 2006/0002(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

30.1.2006

Committee responsible
  Date announced in plenary

PECH
2.2.2006

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

ENVI
2.2.2006

 

 

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

ENVI
30.1.2006

 

 

 

 

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

 

 

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Albert Jan Maat
15.2.2006

 

Previous rapporteur(s)

 

 

Simplified procedure – date of decision  Date of decision

 

Legal basis disputed
  Date of JURI opinion

 

 

 

Financial endowment amended
  Date of BUDG opinion

 

 

 

Parliament to consult European Economic and Social Committee
– date decided in plenary

 

Parliament to consult Committee of the Regions – date decided in plenary

 

Discussed in committee

23.2.2006

18.4.2006

20.6.2006

11.7.2006

 

Date adopted

28.8.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Iles Braghetto, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Paulo Casaca, Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Alfred Gomolka, Pedro Guerreiro, Heinz Kindermann, Henrik Dam Kristensen, Albert Jan Maat, Philippe Morillon, Willi Piecyk, Dirk Sterckx, Margie Sudre

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Carl Schlyter

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Alfonso Andria, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides

Date tabled

31.8.2006

 

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