European MPs from all the major political groups have formed a cross-party campaign group that will press for radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Tuesday afternoon, the group met with commissioner Maria Damanaki in the European Parliament.
Richard Seeber (PPE, Austria), chairman of the group, said “We want to raise people’s awareness that reform of the Common Fisheries Policy has to be founded on sustainability. The capacity of the fishing fleet in Europe is really too big, which means that we are overfishing our stocks.”
The big challenge, Seeber said, is to spread the message that the fishing fleet needs to be reduced. “It is not a very comfortable message, especially for fishermen’s nations. We want to support the Commissioner in her politics to really make a reform which means sustainable fisheries in Europe.”
The new cross-party body, called “Fish For the Future”, already has the support of MEPs from 14 countries and belonging to all the major political groups in the European Parliament.
While European fisheries policy traditionally has been run by coastal states, the chairman of “Fish For the Future”, Richard Seeber, comes from landlocked Austria. “All Europeans, also from the landlocked countries, we all want to have fish on our tables. I think this is the most important thing. There are the ones that catch the fish and the ones that eat the fish, and we are the ones who eat it,” he said.
The group of MEPs met with fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki this afternoon. Regarding subsidies, Damanaki said she will make sure that funding of building new vessels is kept out of the new CFP. She also spoke of the need for the Commission to keep their promises about a simpler, more regionalized fisheries policy. As the issue of discards was discussed, Damanaki made it clear that she wants a discards ban to be part of the CFP.