Europeche, EU reps evaluate discard ban implementation

EU fishing industry body Europeche has welcomed the newly elected chair of the European Parliament committee on fisheries (PECH), Chris Davies, and others at its general assembly. They joined Joao Aguiar Machado, director-general for maritime affairs and fisheries (DG MARE), and Veronika Veits, DG MARE director, to discuss the issues facing the fishing sector yesterday according to undercurrentnews.com.

There was general consensus on the achievements realised in the North East Atlantic with many thriving fish stocks, said Europeche. “However, all parties agreed on the need to put more efforts in the Mediterranean Sea whose situation is expected to improve thanks to the recently adopted policy and legislative tools.”

Europeche and the PECH head intend to reduce discards in Europe as much as possible; fishermen are doing their best to be more selective and to comply with the new rules, the industry body said.

“However they agree that the EU landing obligation as established in the common fisheries policy (CFP) is not working as intended. In this respect, industry representatives expressed concern over the administrative difficulties encountered to develop selectivity pilot projects which require special authorisations, the patchwork of rules contained in the many discard plans which render control difficult, the increase in working time and safety risks, the clash with national rules and the complexity of mixed fisheries management.”

Europeche called for the revision of Article 15 of the CFP as a matter of priority for the legislators.

Concerning the enforcement of the landing obligation, while there was disagreement between Europeche and EU representatives over the mandatory introduction of cameras on board fishing vessels, there was consensus on the need to guarantee business confidentiality and workers’ rights, and to create incentives for its (voluntary) use.

Europeche members argued that cameras will not be the panacea to solve the landing obligation challenges and pointed to the fact that countries with a longer history of a discard ban — such as Norway and New Zealand — do not work with cameras on board.

“I am very pleased that Mr. Davies is actively engaging with the fishing sector and has shown a great willingness to continue an open door policy in the future,” said the managing director of Europeche, Daniel Voces. “We welcome his goal to secure a profitable and long-term future for our fishing industry. We have come a long way, with booming fish stocks in many parts of Europe and we need to continue this positive momentum.”

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