The European Parliament’s fisheries committee voted today (23 January) to approve a new blacklist of countries improperly managing their fisheries, proposed by the European Commission.
The proposal would set up a new rapid procedure for listing countries not co-operating with international rules on illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. It would enable the Commission to add new countries to the existing list and to publish a list of the countries involved.
Räul Romeva, spokesperson for fisheries for the Green group, said that the Commission should use the new powers to add South Korea to the list. “With repeated allegations of illegal fishing and related human rights abuses, notably in West African waters, the European Commission must add South Korea to the blacklist,” he said. “If the countries on the list do not make swift improvements, the Commission must propose sanctions, including – but not limited to – trade sanctions.”
The committee also voted on a long-term plan for cod stocks. MEPs want the European Union to adopt quotas in line with the scientific recommendations for allowing these stocks to recover.
MEPs and green groups reacted angrily to a decision by fisheries ministers taken yesterday (22 April) at a meeting in Luxembourg to speed up trilogue negotiations on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The time frame of talks was shortened with a view to getting compromises agreed by the next fisheries council on 13-14 May.
Green groups complained that shortening the time frame, while giving no indication that the Council intends to compromise with the European Parliament on the two most sensitive issues – the date for a discard ban and the date by which to restore fisheries to sustainable levels – signals that member states intend to pressure the Parliament into giving in by citing time demands.
“The conclusions of this Agri-Fish council on EU fisheries reform are a contradiction in terms,” said Tony Long, director of the European policy office for campaign group WWF. “On the one hand member states agreed to step up the pace of the negotiations to reach a good deal by the next Council in May, but on the other hand they remain firmly rooted in their position despite the trilogues. They have not moved closer to the position of the European Parliament regarding the cornerstone issues.”
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Trilogue talks continue next week.