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Maria Damanaki

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Oceans and Seas: our common future

Hearing at the PECH Committee of the European Parliament

Brussels, 30 May 2012

Dr Lubchenco, Dear Jane, Mr Chairman, Honourable Members,

I am extremely glad to welcome Dr Lubchenco in Brussels today and I am grateful to the PECH Committee of the European Parliament for organising this hearing.

It is absolutely clear to me that our fight for sustainable fishing requires a strong alliance.

The Joint Statement, that we signed last September in Washington, was a first, groundbreaking step in that direction.

Since then there have been others. We have worked together to strengthen RFMOs in combating IUU. And beyond that fight, we also have pushed through conservation and management measures that will strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries. Together, we are drivers for better science, more compliance and higher performance of RFMOs.

Overall, the Joint Statement has given new momentum to our cooperation: in the High-Level Meeting in February, we confirmed our common agenda and agreed that our cooperation on IUU should be steered by an US-EU Working Group. This Group is being set up as we speak.

But other developments have also taken place over the nine months since the signature of the Joint Statement. The Lövin Report on IUU is there to stimulate cooperation, amongst others, with regard to flags of convenience. All loopholes in the system, including dubious reflagging and chartering, should be stopped. I thank this Committee for its valuable work on this issue.

Because illegal fishing is a transnational criminal activity, with our American partners we are exploring ways to get INTERPOL and the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime onboard in our fight.

We will also explore how we can coordinate our approaches on capacity- building. We need to assist developing countries in their efforts to comply with international management and control rules. Moreover, we are also coordinating our actions against IUU fishing in West Africa.

I would like to move now to the other essential side of the sustainability coin.

First of all, I want to pay tribute to the US for their great achievements in managing fisheries in accordance with the best available science and ending overfishing, based on the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

The US has shown us the way on sustainability, and we have drawn inspiration from our US partners, who embarked on this type of process before us a few years ago.

Now, I have proposed a real reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, which should bring the European Union to the forefront of sustainability as well.

Our main problems are overfishing and discarding, and we have set out to eradicate them.

The heart of the Reform is to achieve MSY by 2015, to eliminate the disgrace of discarding, to use our public money in a different way so as to invest more and better in people and the coastal communities that depend on fishing. Through our Reform, the income of our fishermen and their families will be increased, because there will be more fish to land.

We are also going for a greener, simpler and more local policy.

We all know that any right has an obligation attached. The same simple logic also applies in fisheries: if we want fishing rights we need also to make sure that the health of the fish stocks is guaranteed.

What’s more, we are determined to promote the same standards outside EU waters, applying them to all our dealings and actions overseas and contributing to good governance worldwide. As a global player we have to make sure that we act responsibly wherever we have fishing interests.

On the international front, the relationship with the United States is particularly valuable to us. We work with each other, but also with NGOs, stakeholders, scientists and the industry to devise the best ways to promote sustainability and defeat illegal fishing.

In order to be effective, we would need to get on board as many partners as possible in our fight against IUU. I therefore intend to sign another Joint Statement on behalf of the EU with Japan in July. I hope other key partners will follow suit.

Dr Lubchenco and I we share a common vision and we are both committed to working closely along these lines. Together, we have a better chance to promote our principles and cover all fisheries in the world. I am confident that we will get there.

Thank you for your attention.

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