This week’s fisheries votes in the European Parliament

Mauritania agreement
The European Parliament today (Thursday 12 May) approved a resolution on the fisheries partnership agreement (FPA) with Mauritania. The resolution establishes the Parliament’s position on conditions for renewing the current agreement which will expire 31 July 2012.

While it is only Council that can approve the Commission’s negotiation mandate for a new agreement, today’s resolution sends a signal on what the Parliament will demand in order to say yes to a new agreement once it is negotiated.

The European Parliament insists that EU-flagged vessels shall only be allowed access to stocks that have a scientifically determined surplus, and to the resources which are unable to be caught by the Mauritanian fleet

The resolution also states that the money paid as compensation for access to fish stocks in Mauritanian waters must be clearly uncoupled from financial support for the Mauritanian multiannual fisheries programme, in that any reduction in fishing opportunities must not lead to a reduction in EU payments under the multiannual programme.

The EU-Mauritania FPA is an important one, since the payments and licence fees from the EU agreement constitute about one third of total Mauritanian state income.

Fuel subsidies
On the issue of fuel subsidies, a majority in the Parliament today (Thursday 12 May) approved the call for an increased ceiling for de minimis aid, with 369 votes against 203.

While the proposal was approved by a majority of MEPs, there was opposition from individual MEPs in most groups.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki said earlier in the week that the Commission is not prepared to increase the de minimis aid. A coalition of environmental NGOs have spoken out against increased subsidies on the basis that it would allow for an unsustainably high fishing effort.

However, Alain Cadec, who drafted the proposal, said to CFP Reformwatch that the increased aid would only make sure that fishermen were not forced to decrease their fishing activity, while it would not allow them to intensify their fishing activities.

Alain Cadec said: “Nobody wants to threaten the resource, we all know that we have to implement sustainable fisheries with a fishing activity that is adequate in relation to the available resource. This ‘de minimis’ aid is completely separated from the TACs and quotas that are set each year by the Council. Therefore, there is no impact on the amount of fish caught.”

Today’s decision does not mean that the ceiling of de minimis aid is raised, only that the European Parliament asks the Commission to respond to such a request.

Port State Measures
On Tuesday 10 May, the European Parliament approved a report by Carmen Fraga Estévez on port state measures. The vote means that parliament gives its consent to the conclusion of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing, which has been agreed upon within the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Joint motion for a resolution on the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement
Joint motion for a resolution on the European fisheries sector crisis due to the rise in oil prices
Port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Background on the fuel subsidies issue:
Quotes from the fuel subsidy debate
EP fight over fuel subsidies

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