PEs ensured the fisheries policy reform should encourage sustainable fishing practices. (Photo: EC)
Parliament backs sanctions against Iceland, Faroes
Thursday, September 13, 2012, 02:50 (GMT + 9)
Parliament this week approved new rules empowering the European Commission (EC) to ban European Union (EU) imports of fish from overfished stocks in order to discourage overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Parliament has also voted for a range of sanctions against Iceland and the Faroes -- include banning the import of mackerel and other fish from both countries -- over the same row.
Separately, MEPs said the upcoming reform of EU fisheries policy should aim to come up with regulations that encourage sustainable fishing practices.
"Hopefully, today's vote will help ensure that Iceland and the Faroes recognise the seriousness of the situation and at long last they will return to the table to engage in meaningful negotiations," said Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association (SPFA).
The new regulation, approved with 659 votes in favour, 11 against and 7 abstentions, opens the way to trade sanctions against third countries that allow unsustainable fishing from stocks managed by both the EU and third countries.
|Pelagic fishing vessel. (Photo: Blog, faxire9.123.is)
"While the regulation may be used against any third countries, the situation in the North East Atlantic is of immediate concern to all of us. Iceland has unilaterally increased its mackerel catch from 363 tonnes in 2005 to 147,000 tonnes in 2012. The Faroes' quota for mackerel has soared from 27,830 tonnes in 2009 to 149,000 tonnes in 2012," Rapporteur Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE, IE) said.
If these sanctions prove ineffective, the EC may adopt additional measures, such as restricting the use of EU ports by vessels flying the flag of a non-compliant country or by vessels carrying fish from the overfished stock.
In this context, a country allowing "unsustainable fishing" is one that fails to cooperate in the management of a stock of common interest in compliance with international agreements, and fishes at or above the levels that can produce maximum sustainable yields (MSY).
MEPs also opened the door to stronger and properly-funded producer organisations to offset the power of retailers, by adopting new rules for the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products. These rules will also require producers to label fresh fish products with the date of landing and other information for consumers.
The regulation also seeks to slash bycatch by prioritising more selective gear.
"I believe that we have arrived at a good conclusion, as this is the first of three legislative reports which will comprehensively reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)," Rapporteur Struan Stevenson (ECR, UK) commented.
In a resolution on CFP reform, MEPs call for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources based on multiannual management plans and underpinned by a clear timetable in the forthcoming basic regulation on the new policy.
A further resolution urges the Commission to impose sanctions on member states that fail to provide sufficient reliable data for the European fisheries data scheme.
- Brusels warns Iceland, Faroes over 'mackerel war'
- Agreement negotiated to impose sanctions against Faroes, Iceland
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs