Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Luis Planas. (Photo: La Moncloa)
Spanish fisheries and aquaculture sector challenges addressed
Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 01:40 (GMT + 9)
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Luis Planas held a meeting with European Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella to address the main challenges that affect the activity of the Spanish fisheries and aquaculture sector. These include the landing obligation, total allowable catches (TACs) and catches for 2019, the impact of Brexit and the implementation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
In relation to the implementation of the landing obligation, contemplated in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and which will be applicable as of January 1, 2019 for all fleets, the minister expressed the need to look for formulas for a fleet such as the Spanish one, with a wide variety of fisheries and interests, that allow its fishermen to continue fishing in a sustainable way in its environmental, economic and social aspects. Planas thanked the flexibility shown by the Commission regarding the joint recommendations of the regional groups, which made it possible to set some essential exemptions for the Spanish fleet.
He also highlighted the need to draft specific provisions in the area of TACs and quotas regulation, with a view to the next negotiations in 2019, such as flexibility between species, by-catch quotas or special conditions in order to guarantee the landing obligation, under the premise of the sustainability of fishery resources without compromising the economic viability of the sector.
In relation to the separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the minister spoke about the impact it would have for the fishing sector and Spanish aquaculture if Brexit with agreement or cliff edge scenario occurs, where there would be no no agreement and relations with the United Kingdom would be governed by International Law.
Planas highlighted the position of the main negotiator, Michel Barnier and his working group, who have defined fishing as one of the priorities in the discussion with the United Kingdom. Spain is interested in achieving a pact of future relationship that includes fishing and markets, or an ad hoc fishing agreement, linking reciprocal access to water and resources and access to markets.
Regarding the implementation of the EMFF, Planas underscored the Spanish commitment to achieve its performance, to the maximum extent possible, within the established deadlines, for which, he explained that measures are being taken in order to increase the level of eligible investments to certify more payments.
The minister asked the European Commission for permission to proceed, as soon as possible, to the reprogramming of the financial plan, to try to better distribute the funds, focusing them on those measures in which there has been greater demand, and ensuring a better performance.
Planas and Vella addressed the Commission's proposal on the Multi-Year Plan for the demersal stocks of the western Mediterranean, which includes, among other measures, a management regime for fishing effort, the possibility of establishing TACs, closed areas as a complementary measure, landing obligation implementation and regional cooperation between member states.
Planas expressed Spain's willingness to support the plan if it is adequately adapted to the special conditions of this sea and expressed its disagreement regarding the establishment of TACs, given that all Mediterranean fisheries are multispecific.
He also expressed his disagreement about the proposal to establish a 100-metre-deep closed zone along the entire coastal strip, since it does not have a scientific basis, and proposed the establishment of specific areas based on scientific advice as an alternative.