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Texts adopted
Wednesday, 12 December 2001 - Strasbourg Final edition
Precautionary principle and multiannual arrangements for setting TACs
A5-0407/2001

European Parliament resolution on the communication from the Commission on application of the precautionary principle and multiannual arrangements for setting TACs (COM(2000) 803 - C5-0106/2001 - 2001/2055(COS) )

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2000) 803 - C5-0106/2001 ),

-  having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

-  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A5-0407/2001 ),

A.  whereas the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, to which the European Union is a party, requires that measures be adopted to guarantee sustainable fishing,

B.  whereas the FAO Code of Conduct for responsible fishing and the United Nations Agreement on the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks refer to the adoption of the precautionary principle in order to guarantee the conservation and management of marine resources and the marine environment, and whereas, in particular, Annex II of the UN Agreement provides a comprehensive, operational definition of the precautionary approach to fisheries management,

C.  whereas the situation with regard to fishery resources is characterised by the fact that many commercial species are over-exploited and indeed face the risk of biological collapse, and whereas the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries has itself noted that the vast majority of stocks do not conform to its definition of a precautionary approach,

D.  whereas, in order to secure more accurate scientific assessments of the state of fisheries resources and with a view to removing any uncertainties more successfully, scientific experts from the countries and communities affected and representatives from the fisheries sector should be involved in the studies and research projects,

E.  whereas the over-fished species and the sectors of the fishing fleet which are engaged in catching those species must be identified clearly and with scientific accuracy,

F.  noting that fishing gears and practices as used at present lead to large quantities of quota species being discarded,

G.  having regard to the emergency decisions which have had to be taken this year concerning cod in the North Sea and Scotland area and the northern hake stock, which demonstrate the failure of the measures for the rational management of fishery resources currently in force in the European Union,

H.  whereas all the factors which affect the volume of fisheries resources and the sustainability thereof (in particular pollution, transport by sea and illegal fishing) must be evaluated,

I.  having regard to the sweeping criticism voiced by the industry with regard to the system of total allowable catches (TACs) by the EU Council of Ministers each December, including its frequent practice of setting TACs at levels in excess of those recommended by the scientific advisory bodies,

J.  whereas the application of the precautionary principle in setting TACs is a necessary measure to ensure the continuity of species and the rational exploitation of resources in the long term,

1.  Notes the substance of the Commission communication on application of the precautionary principle and multiannual arrangements for setting TACs and shares its objectives;

2.  Calls for the Commission to give a clear definition of multiannuality;

3.  Considers that the system of TACs and quotas should be the cornerstone of the future common fisheries policy;

4.  Trusts that measures to conserve resources will be a priority topic in the imminent reform of the common fisheries policy, and that decisions will be taken that are realistic when measured against the state of stocks, effective and consistent;

5.  In that context, points out that the most important aspect of a rigorous precautionary approach to fisheries involves the choice of target and limit reference points which are sufficiently conservation oriented;

6.  Calls on the Commission and Council, when setting TACs, to use available scientific data, duly verified, as a determining criterion and to take information from fishermen into consideration;

7.  Urges the Council to take decisions on setting catches in line with the actual situation as regards stocks, avoiding the adoption of measures based more on socio-economic circumstances than on a rigorous analysis of the state of stocks, and avoiding arbitrary measures which are impossible to comply with;

8.  Urges the Commission to carry out thorough research into fisheries resources so that better use can be made of data relating to stocks;

9.  Stresses that setting multiannual and multi-species TACs, a measure which favours the conservation of resources, will not in itself be very effective unless coherent decisions are taken designed to improve the operation of other important aspects of the common fisheries policy such as restructuring the Community fleet, fisheries monitoring, reducing discards and improving the technical measures used; regrets in particular in this regard that the Commission has failed to take the opportunity, in devising a scheme for the allocation of resources, to put forward a comprehensive and workable plan to solve the problem of discards;

10.  Urges the Commission and the Council to study the effect which industrial fishing for the purposes of fishmeal production (which these days absorbs one-third of the fish caught in Community waters) has on fisheries resources and, in doing so, to apply the precautionary principle right from the start;

11.  Stresses that, with regard to the setting of multiannual TACs, it would be sensible to make the required mechanisms flexible so that they can be adjusted when necessary; they should be established for the purpose of achieving certain targets within a given period of time and should not serve solely to impose a ceiling on catches;

12.  Is of the opinion that when fish of species for which TACs have been set are discarded at sea, the quantities discarded should be counted against quotas;

13.  Takes the view that the Commission and Council must make provision for additional socio-economic measures to support the sector in order to compensate fisheries workers whose professional activity is significantly curtailed as a consequence of the cuts in catches which will have to be made owing to the unforeseeable decline in stocks; such support must be available on an equitable basis throughout the EU and in addition to financial structural measures for compensation and regeneration, there must be effective and practical measures to facilitate diversification;

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

Last updated: 17 May 2004Legal notice