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Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes. (Photo: Government of Malta)

Fisheries Council defines its position on technical conservation measures

EUROPEAN UNION
Thursday, May 11, 2017, 22:40 (GMT + 9)

The European Agriculture and Fisheries Council has agreed on a position over a European Commission (EC) proposal related to new rules on the conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine ecosystems often referred to as "technical measures".

Such a proposal aims at modernising the existing rules on how and where fishermen may fish, including taking and landing of fisheries resources, specifications and operation of fishing gear, and measures to mitigate their impact on sensitive species or areas.

"Until now European fishermen have had to respect more than 30 different regulations", said Roderick Galdes, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal rights, "an overly difficult and burdensome legislative framework.”

Roderick explained that the idea is to make fishermen’s life easier, guarantee legal certainty and focus on innovation, stating that better and clearer rules will help protect the seas and the sustainability of the fishery resources and that the Council position empowers the fishing community by giving it more direct say in the decision-making process.

The Council's position on technical measures further improves the coherence of the Commission proposal with existing EU law and enhances two key elements: simplification and regionalisation. In particular the text streamlines the procedure for regional cooperation and strengthens the role of member states' joint recommendations, in line with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The Council general approach also strikes a balance between the current rules allowing for lawful fisheries' practices, which may be maintained in order to guarantee business continuity, and the need to provide for viable and innovative solutions in the future.

Other distinctive elements of the Council position are:

  • Quantitative targets: the Council goes for a workable solution by ensuring that catches of marine species below minimum conservation reference sizes are reduced as far as possible;
  • Safeguard measures: the possibility to take urgent measures in case stocks decrease worryingly is confirmed; more space is left to the participation of regional actors;
  • High level of selectivity: the Council allows for technical innovation in full respect of the need, of abiding to high conservation standards, thereby helping the implementation of the landing obligation;
  • Mesh size specifications: the legal basis for possible adjustments is clarified;
  • Pulse fishing: the general approach allows for its continuation provided that there is a scientific assessment of the likely impacts of using such gears on the targeted species and on sensitive species and habitats.

As a next step, the Parliament should adopt its position on this proposal in the second half of 2017, allowing negotiations to start and both institutions must agree on the text before it can enter into force.

 
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