In parallel with the reform of Common Fisheries Policy, the regulation of Atlantic fishing should be revised; and freshwater aquaculture should be assisted. This was the predominant view at the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, held in Luxembourg on 14 April 2011. Participants also discussed the role innovation could play, in the preservation of traditional lifestyle in rural areas.
Ministers exchanged views on the evaluation of the review of fishing effort management in western waters, under the Commission’s Communication COM(2010) 661. They were looking for a possible framework which could be adopted for Atlantic fishing-grounds in order to protect over-exploited stocks. They also discussed whether it was necessary to change the present system, and if so, when and how. Furthermore, they examined whether they should connect, the revision of the fishing effort management regime to the Common Fisheries Policy’s ongoing reform.
Minister for Rural Development, Sándor Fazekas, told a press conference at half-time of the Council session that it was commonly agreed that the present system needs to be reviewed, with management reform in mind. The review should be conducted in parallel with the reform of Common Fisheries Policy, the Minister said summing up the debate.
The western waters regime of fishing effort management was introduced in 1995, and updated in 2003. The Commission proposes that the regime’s revision should run in parallel with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Subsequently, the Commission will present a road map later this year on future priorities.
The European Union provides 4.6 percent of the world’s fishing and fish production, but it relies on considerable import to satisfy domestic consumption. The 27 Member States imported a total of 5.6 million tons of fish in 2007, which complemented 5.1 million tons of fish caught, and 1.3 million tons produced. Seven years earlier, in 2000, 6.7 million tons of fish were caught in the Union, while the level of production was the same, which means, the EU makes up the decrease in marine catches through import only.
The main reason for decreasing the marine catches in the EU, is the overfishing of stocks, which means we are catching more and more fish, not allowing the fish population to reproduce in a year. So to prevent this, marine fishing should be drastically curbed, and fishing capacity decreased. The EU has such measures in mind for years, so the plan to enforce such measures should not be postponed any further.
Five landlocked member states urge the assistance of freshwater fish production
Ministers discussed the Joint Declaration submitted in February of the five landlocked countries, which proposes the development and support of freshwater fishing and aquaculture. The question raised lively interest, and representatives of 19 Member States advocated the initiative.
The Joint Declaration was signed by Austria, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary and Slovakia.
Contributors to the debate agreed that, beside landlocked countries, the development of freshwater fish production is important for other Member States also, since the EU is dependent on large quantities of foreign supplies of fish products. The development of freshwater fish production could enhance the satisfaction of the ever-growing European demands, without harming natural resources. Improving the exploitation of freshwater stocks could ease the negative effects of climate change, and also enhance regional development. Therefore, according to the five landlocked countries’ proposal, producers should be supported, to enable them to appear on the markets with freshwater fish products that are competitive with marine imports.
On behalf of Hungary, György Czerván, Minister of State for Agricultural Economy of the Ministry of Rural Development, advocated the idea that the new Common Fisheries Policy should help to unlock the potentials of freshwater fish production.
Speaking at the mid-session press conference, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki declared that there are great benefits in developing the freshwater aquaculture, as it represents an alternative to marine overfishing, and it could reduce imports and create jobs. As freshwater aquaculture represents a good perspective for landlocked countries, we have to advocate it, the Commissioner added.
Innovation’s role in the preservation of traditional lifestyle
During their working lunch, Ministers discussed, the role, innovation could play in the preservation of traditional lifestyle in rural areas. At an evening press conference following the meeting, Mr Fazekas reminded participants that the Presidency’s conclusions, which was adopted by a qualified majority at the Agricultural Council’s previous session, have already dealt with this question. Mr Fazekas quoted from the document that “European agriculture can only meet the economic and environmental challenges it faces, with the assistance of innovation”, and that “the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a powerful tool to encourage and apply innovation. During the working lunch, we sought answers to the questions how CAP could enhance the revitalisation of rural areas, what other steps were needed to generalise innovative ideas and solutions, what new elements in the CAP could we use to enhance innovation, and how could the role of other EU policies be expanded in the revitalisation of rural areas”, the Minister said.
Mr Fazekas announced that the next informal meeting of the Agriculture Council is to be held on 30-31 May in Debrecen. It will deal with CAP’s role in sustainable animal husbandry.
The Council meeting will address fisheries and agricultural matters; it will start at 11.00 on Thursday 14 April 2011. The Council will be chaired by Mr Sándor FAZEKAS, minister for Rural development of Hungary.
Location: European Congress Center - Luxemburg
Address: Luxemburg 1499 Luxembourg, Quartier Européen Sud, place de l'Europe 4.
Concerning Fisheries, the ministers will have an exchange of views on the review of fishing effort management in western waters.
As regards Agriculture, Ministers could adopt a directive to renew the inclusion of carbendazim as active substance.
The Council will also have an exchange of views on agricultural product quality schemes.
Finally, ministers will be briefed on freshwater aquaculture and inland fishery within the CFP reform.
During lunch, ministers will have a discussion on the role of innovation in revitalising the traditional way of life in rural areas.