The Dutch government has urged action on marine plastic debris.

The Dutch delegation presented a note to EU Environment ministers in at the Environment Council in Luxembourg on 21st October.

Conclusions of the Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg on 19 and 20 October.

The Fisheries Council was dominated by the Commission's proposals for a root-and-branch reform of the CFP control framework and for fishing possibilities in the Baltic Sea for 2010.

The Control Regulation, proposed last November, has now been approved by Council and will enter into force on 1 January 2010. Delays have been agreed for a number of articles to enable Member States to be fully prepared to implement all measures in the Regulation. Ministers resolved the final outstanding issues, including a degree of harmonisation of sanctions, a new penalty points system, a payback system for overfished quotas and provisions to allow for the suspension of Community assistance in the event of non-compliance by Member States with the agreed control provisions. Furthermore, it was agreed that, for now, recreational catches will not be counted against national quotas.

Saskia Richartz, EU oceans policy adviser for Greenpeace, told SeafoodSource that the control regulation would be a step forward, cautioning that “the devil is in the detail.”

Speaking from Luxembourg after attending the October Fisheries Council, Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the original control regulation, in place since 1983, was “in desperate need of renewal in light.”

Council also reached political agreement on the Commission proposal on fishing possibilities for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2010.quotas were increased 15 percent in the eastern Baltic and 8.6 percent in the western Baltic. “Cod stocks have shown a welcome improvement. It was possible to allow a slight increase in the cod quotas for the coming year in line with scientific advice,” said the Swedish EU Presidency in a statement following the meeting.

the western herring stock continues to cause serious concern, prompting Council to agree on a 16.5% reduction. Furthermore, a 12% reduction for the central herring stock and 5% reductions for sprat and for salmon in the Main Basin were also approved. The changes in TACs agreed in Luxembourg will contribute to the ultimate aim of achieving the long-term sustainable exploitation of stocks.

Photograph by MERIS, ESA Envisat image.

 

Seas At Risk held its annual conference on 21st October on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The conference title was "Towards sustainable European fisheries: The double challenge of restructuring and reducing the fishing fleet."

The Common Fisheries Policy is currently being reviewed and overcapacity has been identified as one of the most serious problems by the European Commission. Seas At Risk agrees with the Commission’s analysis but feels that an important angle of the reduction debate is being neglected: the quality of the fleet that should result of reduction efforts. A revised CFP will have to take the opportunity not only to reduce capacity, but also to reduce it in such a way as to keep the most low impact sectors of the fleet and cut the most destructive and unsustainable fleet sectors.

The conference addressed the link between capacity reduction and sustainability criteria.

The objectives of the conference were:

- To convey the message that the reform of the CFP presents the ideal opportunity to not only reduce fishing capacity, but also to restructure the EU fleet so as to obtain a low impact, climate friendly and socially responsible fleet.

- To define what sort of fleet is to be desired as an end result – should social and environmental criteria play a role in the decommissioning process?

- To identify adequate management tools which can deliver such a fleet.

The audience was made up of policy and decision makers, NGOs and industry, and the conference programme will allow for substantial discussions on how to best reach environmental, social and economic targets while reducing and restructuring the Community's fishing fleet.

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Photograph by Sascha Regmann/Project Blue Sea/MarinePhotobank.

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.