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European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Fisheries control – key to achieving our objectives
Visit to the European Fisheries Control Agency
Vigo, 13 February 2012
Dear Pascal, dear members of the staff,
I am delighted to visit you here in Vigo. This morning I have understood the reality of the operations room and have been offered very informative presentations on your current and future activities.
Please be assured, even more now, that I value your work highly. On a daily basis, you coordinate operations stemming from different countries; you train inspectors from Member States and third countries.
Last year, you made a crucial contribution to the Bluefin Tuna inspection campaign: you can be proud to have contributed to the sustainability of that stock. When the Commission had to take urgent measures for pelagic fisheries [mackerel], you worked swiftly to adopt the necessary Joint Deployment Plan. I am grateful for this excellent work. Let us not rest on our laurels however, as we know that much remains to be done in those areas, for instance as regards traceability and monitoring of BFT farming activities.
Indeed, for the future, the immediate one, we – and with "we" I mean the Agency and the Commission - need to meet very demanding challenges:
We have to determine our core priorities and focus our efforts on those: there is no other option.
This is why I count very much on this Agency's capacity to evolve, improve and adapt under the leadership of Pascal and with the guidance of its board. Control lies at the heart of the Common Fisheries Policy: without rigorous implementation, the CFP is not credible. Moreover, control is only accepted by fishermen if there is a level playing field. To realise that, I need the dedication of this Agency.
For me, a systematic, methodical implementation of the Control Regulation is key. That is precisely what we do for instance with quota deductions in case of overfishing. This is also why I intend, end of this month, to issue guidelines on quota deductions, to ensure rules are applied equally to all fishing nations.
In a period of constraints, I would like the Agency to focus on its core business. Other activities will need to be set aside, at least for the time being.
The year 2012 will be a pivotal year because of the ongoing CFP reform. Sure, our plan is still in the making right now, but it is crucial that we all start thinking, brainstorming, getting ready already now on implementing future rules.
Notably, we need to start thinking on how to implement, in practice, the prohibition of discards that the reform will introduce. Practical solutions exist, from CCTV to observers on board. I look forward to discussing with you, recognised specialists, this issue this afternoon.
As you know I feel strongly about discards and about stock preservation in particular: the reform is not a luxury, it is an ecological, social and economic imperative. "Laisser-faire" is not a solution in this area. We need strong and committed authorities to avoid that short-sightedness and greed empty the seas and oceans.
Steve Jobs once said "Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?" He certainly did not want to promote IUU fishing, but was promoting thinking "out of the box". This is what we need in those times of CFP reform. This is also what I hope to be doing with you in this afternoon's session.
I raise my glass to you all and look forward to our continued cooperation.