Tuesday 30 November, Brussels. The Fisheries Committee responded to the “own initiative report” (INI) on “the small-scale fisheries situation in the EU and future perspectives”. The report is being prepared by João Pimenta Lopes from the Left Group (GUE/NGL).
The report is due to be completed by April 2022 and comes at a key moment in European fisheries policy making processes: by the end of 2022 the European Commission (EC) must report on the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and during 2022 the EC will publish a proposal for an Action Plan to Conserve Fishery Resources and Protect Marine Ecosystems. The Action Plan is an integral part of the Biodiversity Strategy, designed to achieve the objectives of the EU’s Green Deal.
Both these processes are of key importance to small-scale fishers (the passive gear fleet segment using vessels below 12 metres) representing as they do 75% of the fleet and 50% of the jobs at sea. The CFP is notoriously biased towards larger scale fishing activities which take the lion’s share of the catch (over 90%) although representing only 20% of the fleet, with trawling being the dominant gear used.
The Action Plan aims to reduce the impact of fishing on the environment, notably on the seabed, in order to conserve biodiversity. From the Commission, Lena Andersson Pench highlighted the importance of small-scale low impact fishing in the transition to lower impact fisheries as envisioned by the Action Plan.
Given the way that the rights of the small-scale fleet have been prejudiced by successive CFPs – notably with regard to access to resources – this is an opportunity to examine how to right many of the historic wrongs. These include redirecting the way that subsidies for fisheries are used to support collective projects, encourage young fishers, provide capacity building and support cooperatives
Lopes’s draft report deals with the gamut of issues facing small-scale fisheries. A key theme of the report is that given the differences between small and large scale fishing, a differentiated approach is needed. “You don’t treat things that are different in the same way”, he said. Small-scale fishing requires a different treatment to large scale fishing, which means that both types of fishing need to have their roles, place and space more clearly defined, recognized and respected.
Amendments to the report will be discussed in the Pech Committee on December 17, with voting on the report scheduled for April 2022.
You can watch the video of the Pech Committee discussion here. (minute 0.44.16 to 1.34.00)