Karmenu Vella, mew EU Commissioner of Maritime Affairs and the Environment. (Photo: Correctprofile/CC BY-SA 3.0)
Fisheries sector places discussion expectations on new Fisheries Commissioner
Friday, September 12, 2014, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Spanish fishing industry, and in particular that of Galicia, expects the arrival of a new European Union Fisheries Commissioner signals the beginning of a stage with more "discussion and common sense", and a closer approach taken by Brussels of the fleet and the industry.
The president of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, decided to merge the secretariat of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs to that of the Environment in order to reflect the "blue" and "green" development. And to take office he appointed the Maltese Karmenu Vella, who will replace Maria Damanaki, in charge of this position since December 2009.
To the secretary general of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA), Javier Garat, this union is "a surprise, which is not desirable for the sector, but he considers that a priori there is no reason to believe it is negative," reports La Opinion.
The blue and green growth, requested from Vella, "will only be possible if there is understanding of the environmental, social and economic sustainability of fisheries, interpreting it beyond the exclusive conservation of marine resources and considering fishermen as part of the ecosystem," Garat stressed.
The fisheries sector in Spain offers its cooperation to the new commissioner, who is expected to carry out a better management than his predecessor, who has been accused of having developed management actions "without considering the sector and with zero negotiation."
While Vella is unknown to the members of the industry, they trust that "he knows their reality and circumstances before making decisions," Garat added.
"Despite having tried all possible ways, the Commissioner of Fisheries [Damanaki] lacked contact with fishermen and harmed the sector with measures or attitudes such as her attack on trawling, fin regulations that impacted on both longliners and her recommendations for fish consumption," reported fishery workers from Galicia.
The president of the Galician Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Benito Gonzalez, also expressed confidence that Vella will take the industry into account and consider it as apart of the "green" positions of the previous commissioner.
"Although we are all in need to protect the resources, and those that are more interested in it are fishermen, we must also consider the social aspect of the actions taken," argued Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, the head of CIG Mar, Xavier Aboi, expressed skepticism with the choice.
"Without considering the person, this is evidence of the way Europe works and I think it is increasingly clear that in this Europe Galicia is not considered as a part," Aboi pointed out.
For his part, President of the Cooperative of Shipowners of Vigo (ARVI), Javier Touza, said Vella has "absolute cooperation" of the sector to implement the new CFP, but they would like to be heard and request the new commissioner to be more receptive to their concerns, and "to promote a balance between environmental and economic and social sustainability," Diario Atlantico reported.
According to José Antonio Suárez-Llanos, ARVI Deputy Managing, Damanaki "has achieved a hard thing: the unanimous criticism from the EU fisheries sector."
Finally, the general secretary of the National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Shellfish (ANFACO), Juan Manuel Vieites, expects the new commissioner "understands the sector as a whole and not just the capture part, is sensitive to their demands and makes sure that all stakeholders play in the same field and under the same conditions."
"We hope the profile of this secretariat grows in rank and the whole sea-industry complex is granted higher importance," he concluded.
By Analia Murias