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The good news is that we are moving towards sustainability

"The good news is that we are moving towards sustainability!"

I presented yesterday to EU Ministers the Commission’s views on what quantities should be allowed to be fished in 2013 for main commercial fish stocks.

First, referring to the last year’s decisions, we have already seen the proof that sustainability pays off: reaching sustainable exploitation levels can bring short term-benefits. Until the end of 2012 we will give135 millions of Euros to our Atlantic fishermen because of quotas increases.

This year the news are better: We have increased the number of EU stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield last year from 13 to 19 for now. The situation is improving. For example, for sprat in the Baltic Sea I will propose an increase in TAC from 242 000 to 278 000 for 2013. Other stocks with good news are cod and sole in the Celtic Sea, sole in the Western Channel, herring in the Irish Sea, and a spectacularly good Norway Lobster in the West of Scotland. These stocks can bring increases worth well over 23 million Euros, just on their own. And this figure will increase once we get the rest of the advice for the large pelagics in autumn. Of course there are still a lot of stocks to take care of.

Second, we can witness a great improvement in scientific advice: the new methodology followed by our scientists concerning data poor stocks tries to make up for the data gap by taking whatever information is available from various sources. Implementing this principle this year we are going to have scientific advice for 88% of the stocks. Last year we only had it for 33%. The difference is huge. This scientific advice is based on a sound approach and I believe that we should accept it as a package and avoid going back to cherry picking the bits that are positive for some stocks and national interests and selectively ignoring the advice that recommends catch cuts..

So, let’s continue our effort towards sustainability. Let’s continue this path: our proposal this year is to follow scientific advice to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield as soon as possible. And this should become the rule: the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy offers the opportunity to enshrine the Maximum Sustainable Yield concept, with a precise timetable and a deadline as close as possible. An opportunity that we shouldn’t miss.

SUSTAINABILITY PAYS OFF, 4.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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    Inter – RAC” Meeting, Friday 28 September 2012: Misrepresentation of Small-Scale Fisheries in the RACs
    I would like to express my concern with the way that the above meeting dealt with the issue of the representation of small scale fisheries in European bodies, and I have deep misgivings that personal statements made by Mr Deas, a representative of British vessel owners have been published on the internet as if they were the agreed consensus of the meeting ( The IFFO website summarizes this as follows: “The pitfalls of small, noisy, self-appointed but unrepresentative groups which have visibility but low levels of actual support within the small-scale sector were discussed in this context.”
    In the light of such misleading statement, I want to stress that I was unfortunately not permitted by the Chair to respond to the inaccuracy of Mr Deas’s personal statement. I therefore take this opportunity to do so with this letter, and I would like to point out that:

    In the South Western Waters RAC Working Group on Traditional Fisheries we have representatives of small scale fleets from the Atlantic Coast of France, from the Spanish Cantabrian and North East coasts, from the Portuguese mainland, and from the Azores, Madeira and Canary islands. Together this fleet represents a significant proportion of the total European fleet, and which bears no resemblance to Mr Deas’s statements.

    This Working Group, active since 2006, has been instrumental in developing many of the recommendations sent by the SW RAC to the Commission, concerning both the specific problems that face our fleets and the wider issues that concern small scale fisheries (CFP, CMO, EMFF, FLAGs etc.). The Working Group has also initiated a number of INTERREG projects, value addition projects, and we have organized an international Congress on trade. We have an average attendance of around 20 representatives at our meetings and a high level of participation.

    The Galician Federation of Fishermen’s Cofradias of which I am General Secretary groups together 3 Provincial Federations and 63 Fishermen’s Cofradias whose Members include more than 10,000 purse seine, gill net, dredge, long line and passive gear (artes menores) vessel owners and fishermen, shore based fishers, men and women shellfish gatherers, and divers. In short, we represent a significant component of professionals from the European fisheries sector.

    I find it worrying that people like Mr Deas are allowed to get away with raising doubts about the representativity of legitimate members of the RACs, generalizing in a negative way the lack of capacity of the artisanal fishery sector to organize itself. I think that such statements are unfortunate for the members of his organization, above all for those in the small scale sector who he purports to represent.
    I would like to leave it in no doubt that, using whichever platforms are available to us, together with other small scale fishing groups across all EU member states, along both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts, we will continue to defend our fisheries sector, which we consider to be currently unrepresented in the decision taking processes, including RACs executive committees, as was made abundantly clear to us in the “Inter-RAC” meeting which Mr Deas has referred to.
    Sincere regards

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