“I look forward to a dialogue with the users of this website”

Giving journalists and citizens easy access to documents relating to the Common Fisheries Policy is a brilliant initiative. At least that is what the first guest writer of CFP-reformwatch.eu, Maria Damanaki, thinks. Her own vision? Sustainable blue jobs.

As the “new” Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, I count myself fortunate to be embarking on my role at a time when we are shaping the future of fisheries in Europe. This is a time when dialogue and exchange – between policy makers, stakeholders, journalists and citizens – must be strongly encouraged. And what better means than an open, user-friendly web platform such as the brand new cfp-reformwatch.eu?

The open consultation on the Green Paper that we carried out last year brought about an overwhelming number of replies, each of them a precious insight on the reality of European fisheries. The Commission is now examining those views in depth, so that options and orientations for the future policy can be put on the table. At the same time it is weighing their respective social and economic impacts.

But this does not mean that the reform debate is done and dusted! On the contrary, between now and July the institutions will be pursuing the debate at a series of meetings with stakeholders and Member States, and these meetings will be crucial in further discussing the many issues that the reform aims to tackle: stock conservation, fleet overcapacity, better governance, industry responsibility, external dimension – to mention but a few.

For example, Europe’s ministers will focus on the reform under the Spanish Presidency at their April and June sessions. In addition, an informal Council of Fisheries Ministers will be held in Vigo in May. This Council meeting will follow hot on the heels of a conference on the CFP organised jointly by the Spanish Presidency and the Commission also in May to discuss with administrations and stakeholders three key aspects of the reform: governance, resource management and small-scale fisheries.

In addition to these gatherings discussing the general approach, a series of specifically-targeted meetings in the course of the year will address individual topics such as rights-based management, discards and selectivity, the European Fisheries Fund and so on. So, clearly, the details of the reform remain to be fleshed out over the coming months.

That said, I believe that the vision of a reformed CFP which marries together economic, social and environmental concerns is one we can all support. We all recognise the need to exploit our marine resources in a responsible and sustainable way. Likewise, we all want a secure and profitable future for our fishing industry and coastal communities. The emphasis that the sector places on employment ties in closely with my ambition to create the “blue jobs” I alluded to at my hearing at the European Parliament this year. The current economic downturn, whose devastating impact has been felt in all sectors all over Europe, has strengthened my resolve to place the maritime and fisheries sectors at the forefront of efforts to create quality jobs able to weather future economic storms.

In conclusion, the European Parliament’s response to the Commission’s consultation on the future of Europe’s fisheries is much appreciated. Again with this website, the Fisheries Committee shows it has made the reform its top priority and it is more than willing to help steer the EU through the next stage in the reform. Thank you Isabella, for your drive, for your relentless commitment and for another brilliant initiative!

For my part I look forward to constructive dialogue with the users of this website. I am confident that together, in a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation, we can make a real and positive difference to the future of fisheries in Europe.

Maria Damanaki

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Name: Maria Damanaki
Profession: Commissioner of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs
Family: Three children: Thodoris 21, Heleni 21 and Mariana 15.
Other: Imprisoned by Greek dictatorship 1973-74. First woman ever to lead a Greek political party. Author of books such as The female aspect of power, The return of politicsthe European perspective, and Associative Democracy.

What are you reading right now?
– I am reading two books. At home, I read “How Nature Works: the Science of Self-Organized Criticality“. This is a truly fascinating book by Per Bak, a famous Danish physicist. By enhancing our theoretical grasp of scientific phenomena, he manages to increase our respect for nature, for life. Few books that deal with theoretical scientific theory manage to have an impact on our attitude, and I think this is its true achievement. When I travel I usually like to read crime fiction. These days I am making my way through “Doors Open” by Scottish author Ian Rankin, which revolves around an art theft story.

What is your strongest memory of fish?

– My strongest memory of fish is from a primary school trip, when we went to visit the ancient palace of Knossos. Coming from a small fishing village in Crete, seeing fish, fishermen and boats was a fact of everyday life for me. I was astonished to see in Knossos a two thousand year fresco of a fisherman holding a bunch of fish. The image looked so familiar! It made me realise how deeply rooted in history fishing is, and very proud of this heritage

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