Ms Mette Gjerskov, Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)
Ministers want member states to have more power over their fisheries
Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
The last Fisheries Council meeting in which European Union (EU) Fisheries Ministers talked about the European Commission’s (EC) proposals on transferable fishing concessions and regionalization of fisheries management included more possibilities for decentralized decisions.
The main idea in the Commission’s proposal on regionalisation discussed at the latest meeting in Luxembourg is that such decisions will contribute to making sure more fisheries are sustainable in the future.
EU fisheries ministers agreed that regionalisation is the way to go to achieve sustainable fisheries, but the question of how to go about it remains to be figured out.
“Regionalisation is all about making the right decisions at the right levels, thus getting rid of micromanagement from Brussels,” said Council Chair Mette Gjerskov.
“At the same time, we must ensure a level playing field. At today’s meeting we have received many constructive proposals that will be included in the future work on the reform,” Gjerskov added.
An important topic being considered for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform is to create a balance between fishing capacity and actual fishing opportunities. To help reach this objective, the Commission has proposed a mandatory system of transferable fishing concessions so that fishers can buy and sell their quotas.
This debate showed that most EU fisheries ministers oppose this mandatory system. Some Member States fear the trade may lead to a concentration of ownership with a negative social impact on coastal fishing communities.
“It is important to eliminate excess capacity and more national co-decision may be reasonable whether it is with regard to trading fish quotas or other measures. The main thing is to find effective solutions. All Member States must contribute to a more sustainable development,” Gjerskov said.
“Denmark has introduced transferable fishing quotas. But I am fully aware that it does not mean that it will work well in all Member States. What works well in one place may have the opposite effect in another,” Gjerskov added.
UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon used the meeting to ask countries in Europe to be given more say in how their fisheries are managed. The UK Government believes the new regionalised decision-making process would give Member States more freedom to work together on the detail of fisheries management in a way that suits their own specific circumstances.
Scotland's Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead agrees that fisheries management should be decentralised away from Brussels.
The Danish Presidency wants to take a general approach on the fisheries reform at the Council meeting next June.
- Fisheries Council to debate CFP reform
By Natalia Real