I have carefully read European commissioner Maria Damanaki’s draft proposals and examined the consequences for fisheries and European fishermen. Even if some of the ideas point in the right direction, a number of the Commission’s proposals are unacceptable because they would quite simply mean the inevitable end of the entire European fisheries sector.
It is clearly essential to preserve fishing stocks, but this cannot be the sole objective. The commissioner’s approach seems dogmatic. The reform has to make it possible to protect supplies, while also taking into account the competitiveness of the fisheries sector, fishermen’s incomes, consumer expectations and the dynamic character of coastal regions. We will not let this draft pass in its current state.
The first unacceptable point is the establishment of individual, transferable quotas. Over time, they would put small-scale fishing in the hands of large industrial fisheries and lead to a monetisation of the sector, at the expense of responsible, small-scale fishing that creates jobs, directly and indirectly. I cannot accept the implementation of such a system. It is based on an ultra-liberal approach whose negative effects on the economy we can clearly see from the financial crisis. The second objection is to the immediate and total ban on discards, which makes no sense in terms of preserving the resource. Our aim is a reasonable exploitation of stocks that protects young fish. We should improve the selectivity of fishing gear and fishing instead of getting involved in a senseless theoretical argument.
A third point of disagreement is the aim of moving to maximum sustainable yield by 2015. The 2010 Nagoya conference on biodiversity confirmed the conclusions of the Johannesburg conference that the aim should be to achieve this by 2020, rather than 2015. We must also insist on maintaining relative stability, which must remain an inviolable principle in order to ensure equity among member states.
However, I think the implementation of long-term management plans is the start of a solution to the problem of rebuilding stocks, and that strengthening the role of producer organisations is a significant advance. These ideas are to the credit of Damanaki’s proposals.
But overall, the commissioner is adopting an ideological approach. We need to move to a pragmatic approach, reconciling the interests of fishermen with scientific expertise. We have to take responsible decisions and not forget that every time a vessel is scrapped, it cannot be brought back. We also have to defend our own interests, both national and European. We already import 80% of the seafood we consume. It would be absurd from a political, social, environmental and food-safety point of view to destroy our fleet and give even greater preference to imports. It would be wrong to think that putting in place individual quotas or a total ban on discards would solve all the problems.
Now we begin a period of reflection and exhange of views on the Commission’s proposals. As one of the MEPs responsible, I will strive to modify these proposals in order to produce an ambitious reform that takes into account all aspects of this dossier, which is essential for the future of a sector that has been neglected too often.
French centre-right MEP Alain Cadec is a vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee.
Click Here: Cheap FIJI Rugby Jersey