I am just on my way back from the United States, where I did sign a significant agreement between Europe and the US administration on putting an end to pirate fishing with Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator.
The substantial follow up in the media on this topic shows the importance given to this subject by the public at large, but also that real action is expected to follow soon. We have established an EU-US High Level Dialogue on Fisheries Policy to set out the next steps in the immediate future.
It was good to deepen the topic of control, fisheries and Maritime issues with key players like White House Council Nancy Sutley, Senator Mark Begich from Alaska, Coast Guard Command Robert Papp and his staff, the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative at the Meridian Institute, Kenneth Feinberg, Admiral Thad Allen and at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies with interested students from around the globe. I had the chance to exchange views on how to make fisheries and maritime policy fit for the future with important Non Governmental Organizations like WWF, the PEW Group and the Environmental Defense Fund.
The European proposals for fisheries reform where very well received by all counterparts in Washington, bearing in mind that the United States are miles ahead of Europe when it comes to sustainable fishing, through their legislation which has eradicated overfishing. We talked about best practices, comparisons and differences between our approaches, experiences in Alaska and how catch share programmes contributed to better preserve fisheries as a common good for the benefit of the environment, a better value for and estimation of fish and a real and long lasting income for the fishermen alike.
The same benefits will be seen after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the European Union when the idea of transferable concessions is implemented properly. Because it is the common good of our seas and oceans that we have to hand in a good shape to future generations.
When this blog is published, I will have flown back over “the big pond” to Europe with in my bag a signed document which will ignite a coordinated and effective endeavour to put an end to illegal fishing on an international scale. The work has just started, we now have to make it real. But it is good to stand shoulder to shoulder across the Atlantic with strong partners, for that is how we can get there and I invite other parties and nations to join.