The European Commission has published a progress report on the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). The report evaluates actions undertaken since 2007 to date, and outlines strategic policy orientations of the future of the IMP.

Once again the Commission places considerable emphasis on the economic potential of maritime sectors, particularly shipping and energy generation. The current financial and economic crisis provides yet an incentive to fully exploit the potential of our seas.

SAR has teamed up with the Fish Secretariat to prepare monthly briefings ahead of each Agriculture and Fisheries Council for Fisheries ministers across Europe.

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat (a Swedish NGO working exclusively on fisheries issues) will work together on a joint project “Environmental Guidance for EU Fisheries Council Meetings”. In the framework of this project, Seas at Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat will provide environmental guidance (briefs) on fisheries to the fisheries ministers of the EU member states prior to each EU Fisheries Councils. The principal aim of the guidance will be to achieve more sustainable fisheries through greener decisions in the EU Fisheries Council.


The guidance is primarily directed at EU Fisheries Ministers, who will, four to six weeks prior to each Fisheries Council, receive a letter from Seas at Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat including guidance in the form of background information, views and recommendations, as well as supportive documentation concerning the agenda items of the upcoming Council.

At the same time, the guidance will also be sent via email to political actors and advisors, other officials, Members of the European Parliament and NGOs.

Approximately one week before each Fisheries Council, we will also make our guidance available on a common website of Seas at Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat (www.sarfish.org).

The text to emerge from the most recent round of UNFCCC negotiations suggests campaigners face an up hill battle to get a progressive agreement on bunkers in Copenhagen in December.

Two drafting meetings took place in Bangkok on this issue but the resulting text (see below) remains fragmented and full of contradictory proposals. The split between developed countries and the larger “developing” states over the principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and “no more favorable treatment of ships” remains. The position of the former was weakened by an inability of the EU to agree targets and baselines, while Venezuela, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Brazil worked to insert variations of the “common but differentiated” approach into the work of IMO. The idea of using revenues from a bunkers levy or ETS has continued to gain traction but this “carrot” was not enough to move developing countries in Bangkok.

The issue will be discussed next in Barcelona from 2-6th November. The UNFCCC Copenhagen climate summit takes place from 7-18th December.

After an earlier call by the EU for Copenhagen to set bunker targets EU states have failed to produce a detailed proposal on figures in Bangkok.

Disagreement over both the target level and baseline has stopped EU states from making any proposal in Bangkok this week. The next opportunity for EU states to reach an agreement comes at a Council meeting on October 21st. A -20% target may be possible but it seems unlikely that the baseline for measuring reductions will be the Kyoto 1990 date which applies to other sectors in the EU and developed countries globally. The importance of this can be seen from the following: a -20% reduction on a baseline of 2005 would equal a +36% increase from a 1990 baseline!

The Bangkok round of negotiations towards the UNFCCC Copenhagen climate change summit will close on October 9th. The next and last meeting before Copenhagen in December will take place in Barcelona from 2-6th November.

Photograph by Jashim Salam/Marine Photobank.

150 participants attended the joint OCEAN2012/WWF conference “Regional Fisheries Management: How to make it work for fisheries and the environment”.

The conference aimed to provide examples of regional management around the world, at different levels, to stimulate discussions on a more regionalised approach to fisheries management under a revised CFP.

The conference drew from experience in regional fisheries management in the USA, in the Languedoc-Roussilion region of France, in the Spanish province of Galicia, and in Scotland. It also benefitted from presentations on initiatives from HELCOM, OSPAR and NEAFC to integrate environmental and fisheries management issues at regional level. Finally, three scientists gave their opinion on the perspectives for the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and the North Seas.

During the discussions with the participants, it became evident that, while design and legal issues are still outstanding, there is general agreement that a more regionalised approach to fisheries management in the EU can contribute to overcoming problems of micro-management at the highest political level, and to designing measures which are more adapted to the realities of the regions where they will be implemented.

Participants identified different possible structures and highlighted the legal constraints to creating decentralised management bodies with power over a common EU policy.

Finally, David Symes concluded with the question that remained in the minds of those who attended the event:

“A system with different solutions for different regions – or ONE system for ALL regions? That, to me, is a very crucial question.”

OCEAN2012

Fisheries Secretariat news on the conference

European Commission website on the reform of the CFP

Seas At Risk conference on capacity reduction and fleet restructuring

President Barroso says that the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is an opportunity for "root and branch reform" during the Spring Alliance conference.

The Spring Alliance is a broad-based movement pushing for an EU that places people and planet at the centre of policymaking. It was established by four leading civil society organisations – the European Environmental Bureau (a member of Seas At Risk), the European Trade Union Confederation, Social Platform and Concord – and is composed of groups and individuals from civil society and beyond.

Civil society representatives came together at the European Economic and Social Committee at a High Level Conference with participation of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, the European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas and Ola Alterå, State Secretary to Maud Olofsson, Minister for Enterprise and Energy of Sweden.

During his intervention, Mr Barroso expressed support for the Spring Alliance manifesto text on unsustainable fishing, which was drafted by Seas At Risk. The President of the Commission said that the Spring Alliance was right to highlight unsustainable fishing in the document. He added:
“In April this year, we launched a major debate on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy. We are legally bound to review certain elements of it in 2012, but have decided to seize the opportunity for a root-and-branch reform. “
Mr Barroso added that “we must make ecological sustainability the basic premise of the policy; economic and social sustainability will follow from that. “

He also used the opportunity to express his disappointment at the fact that Member States did not unanimously back a proposal to the support the temporary ban on international trade in Atlantic blue fin tuna under CITES. The European Commission have backed the proposal originally made by Monaco as an attempt to protect the species from extinction.

Six countries in the Mediterranean region have stood in the way of co-sponsoring a proposal on a ban on trading blue fin tuna.

Despite the European Commission deciding to support Monaco’s proposal to ban trade in blue fin tuna, Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, France, and Greece blocked the initiative. The rest of the 27 EU Member States either supported or remained neutral on the proposal.

Environmental organisations present at the Ministerial gathering of 47 countries from five continents emphasize the fisheries ministers’ recognition that “a new scenario for the seas and the oceans” is urgently needed.

The European Commission has delivered its first progress report on maritime policy, two years after its launch.

The aim of integrated maritime policy is to get many of the different bodies responsible for the different elements involved in maritime policy to cooperate.

The 5th World Conference of Fisheries Ministers will take place in Bayona, Spain on Tuesday 16th September. More than 60 Fisheries Ministers from five continents will meet to adopt a ministerial declaration bound to guide the future policy of sustainable fishing worldwide.