Member of the European Commission
Responsible for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Atlantic Bluefin tuna and the CFP reform
European Parliament – lunch visitors' group of Mrs Patrão Neves
Brussels, 25 February 2010
Mrs Patrao Neves,
I heard you came all the way from Portugal to see Brussels and to learn something more about the European Institutions. It is very important to facilitate these opportunities as part of the understanding of Europe and its institutions and I welcome you all here today in the premises of the European Parliament.
As part of your ambitious programme you saw today the debate and the vote on an own-initiative report by your host, Mrs Patrao Neves, on the reform of the common fisheries policy. I am very glad that the European Parliament which represents the citizens in Europe contributed to the consultation procedure launched by the European Commission regarding its Green Book on the common fisheries reform. Mrs Neves had an important contribution to this procedure, taking into account very different options from a large number of parliamentarians.
I guess we all agree that a radical reform is needed. The last reform in 2002 was not sufficiently successful and the adopted initiative report today in plenary underlines this. Additionally, there were important issues raised by the Parliamentarians which the Commission will assess very carefully and I do believe that the Parliament as well as the stakeholders and the Commission will keep a close dialogue when it comes to future legislation in this field.
Another pressing issue for me as a Commissioner at the moment is the proposed ban on international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on this matter in favour of such a listing under certain conditions and the Commission tends to support the Parliament in this. I believe that a ban of trade into bluefin tuna has to be accompanied by a number of important conditions which - in my view - constitute a coherent approach.
This means first that a listing of this fish would be suspended until the ICCAT Scientific Committee (which is the expert committee to assess fish stocks etc.) has come up with a new stock assessment in October 2010
Second, even if the ban then enters into effect, I am convinced of the need to preserve artisanal fishing activities. These are undertaken in a sustainable manner with a limited impact on the stock and are of social importance to many of our coastal regions. Therefore, I will make a proposal to exempt artisanal fishing activities from the ban so that these vessels and traps can continue to fish bluefin tuna in EU waters and land and trade this fish within the EU.
Third, I am currently looking into the possibility to finance supporting measures for fishermen and ship-owners who might be affected by a possible trade ban, within the context oft the European Fisheries Fund or other existing appropriations.
The following years will be very important for the establishment and the implementation of our new fisheries policy. I hope that the European Parliament and the member States and the stake-holders will cooperate with the Commission for the best results.