Low Impact Fisheries must be a target!

Maria Damanaiki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, spoke on 22 November 2011 in the European Parliament at a seminar promoting low impact fisheries. The seminar was organised by Seas at Risk, an umbrella organisation for environmental NGOs from 11 countries in collaboration with MEPs Anna Rosbach, Isabella Lövin and Christofer Fjellner.

Research findings were presented showing that many parts of the Commission proposal for reforming the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) went into the right direction, but that some parts needed further strengthening. A particular plea was put forward to provide positive incentives for low impact fishing and to discourage destructive gear and fishing methods. In her response, the Commissioner commented that “we need the fish, but we need to fish in a smarter way...”.

She highlighted that the Commission wanted to promote small-scale fisheries which create new and sustainable jobs in the maritime economy and the affected coastal zones, but that it was up to the Member States to whom they allocated fishing rights. She also insisted that any measures should be easy to understand and control to enable effective enforcement.

Commissioner Damanaki announced that a generous fund was under preparation which would support the adjustment necessary for the reform to bear fruit. Subsidies for bigger vessels would be excluded. She took on board the idea of low impact fisheries and promised to study how this could be promoted, possibly as a criterion for accessing resources from the forthcoming fisheries fund. Click here for more information about low impact fishing. Click here for a news report about the event.

Meanwhile, more work on important concepts underlying the policy reform process were debated in the Parliament on 30 November 2011. The CFP reform aims at achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015 as required according to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The concept is not well understood by all concerned and the seminar organised by MEP Isabella Lövin was an opportunity to clarify it. Rainer Froese of the Helmholtz-Zentrum for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, formerly IfM-GEOMAR, explained how to transit to robust, profitable and sustainable fisheries. Click here to get the presentations of the event.

A few days later, on 2 December, Commissioner Damanaki announced adoption by the Commission of a new Fund for consideration by the European Parliament and the Council. She said "The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will increase economic growth and create jobs in the sector. No more money will be spent to build big vessels. Small scale fisheries and aquaculture will benefit of this budgetary greening of the Common Fisheries Policy." Click here to see the video with her announcement.