Taking over the EU presidency just as the Commission is expected to propose a new Common Fisheries Policy, Poland will lead the first Council discussions on the CFP reform package. Here, Poland’s fisheries minister, Kazimierz Florian Plocke, lays out his priorities of the next six months.
Today, on 1 July 2011, for the first time since joining the European Union, Poland will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Demanding a full strategic and organisational engagement, the Presidency presents a great challenge, but at the same time offers a good opportunity to co-ordinate works of the EU institutions.
One of the priorities of the Ministry of Agriculture for the upcoming half year is its active involvement in works on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Our actions will be aimed at developing the most effective CFP mechanisms possible, which will establish the rules for the operation of the EU fisheries sector after 2012 and at the same time influence on the scope of financial support for the sector.
The evaluation of the applicable rules of the CFP and the issue of its reform have been debated on the EU forum since 2008. We expect the European Commission to present in July this year the first package of projects implementing the reform:
- Proposal for a new basic regulation on establishing a new framework and key rules for the CFP;
- Proposal for a new regulation on the organization of the fisheries and aquaculture product market;
- The European Commission non-legislative communication on the external dimension of the CFP;
- The European Commission non-legislative communication explaining the political context for the CFP and its objectives;
- Report on the European Commission’s implementation of obligations imposed by it in the so-called basic regulation on the CFP (Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002).
Since the beginning of the debate, Poland has been a strong supporter of undertaking a comprehensive Common Fisheries Policy reform, as it was specified in the obligations imposed by the Earth Summit 2002 held in Johannesburg. The final objective is to gradually create a sustainable fisheries at a MSY level, which means fishing at the highest possible catch generating profit for the fishermen without affecting the stock reproduction process, i.e. without disturbing the balance between mankind and nature. In the long-term perspective, this helps us achieve a responsible management of particular species, taking into account the multispecies approach and the ecosystem-based approach.
In our opinion, the necessary actions for improving the condition of the European fisheries are resolving the problem of overcapacity. Poland has made a huge effort in order to adapt its fishing capacity to its available stocks by significant reducing its fleet since 2004. Currently, we have tools in the framework of the European Fisheries Fund, which allow us to solve this kind of problem. These steps might bring a higher added value than so far, which requires political determination and consequences of those Member States, which still have problems with overcapacity.
Furthermore, when drafting new rules concerning the fisheries sector, it is necessary to pay particular attention to continuing the principle of relative stability in the CFP. This principle is one of the fundamental rules in the CFP which was established in 1983. Relative stability guarantees Member States their historical rights and the agreed distribution key of fishing opportunities.
We also support regionalisation of the decision-making process and increasing role of the fisheries sector representatives and scientists in the above process. Regionalisation should be aimed at giving the local community an actual impact on decisions that directly affect them. Regional committees, comprised of administration officials, fishermen and scientists, should work out recommendations concerning technical issues.
In our opinion fisheries management should be realized in a long-term and multispecies perspective. Such a perspective is beneficial both from the economic and biological point of view, since it offers more reliable scientific advice and a clearer macroeconomic outlook for the sector, thus enabling fishermen to plan their activity. Additionally, in the long term perspective, conflict between the socio-economic and environmental goals of the fisheries policy will disappear or at least be much less acute. Consequently, we support the application of long-term plans for crucial commercial fish stocks, as well as complementing such plans with socio-economic actions.
Furthermore, the issue of by-catch, as well as the practice of discard connected with it, is of great importance. These practices have a negative impact on the fishery management, the environment, the economic aspect of the fisheries sector and especially in recent years, very negative public perception. Therefore, discards should be seriously limited or gradually eliminated.
We would like to point out the importance of the external dimension of the CFP, since the management of a long-distance fleet has a completely different context than a fleet operating in Community waters. – it is subject to global competition and is connected with global responsibility for resources. Therefore, one should liberalise the management of this sector, retaining at the same time the rules of responsible and sustainable fishery. Provisions set forth in partnership agreements concluded by the EU should emphasise the importance of sustainable fisheries, bring benefits to local communities and, consequently, contribute to the protection of human rights.
The CFP reform will be closely related to the form and scope of the Future Fisheries Fund in the new post-2013 financial perspective. It is important that during the Polish Presidency the convergence principle applied to granting aid is kept at least at its current level.
During the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union ministers will discuss the reform concerning the organization of the common fisheries market as part of the reform package amending the CFP. In our opinion, one of the key issues will be putting more emphasis on strengthening the role of aquaculture on the European market and, consequently, setting forth provisions for entities operating in the aquaculture sector. Such provisions should reflect these entities’ needs, which will impact the effectiveness and competitiveness of aquaculture throughout the world.
The CFP reform should contribute to improving the operation of producer organisations which gather only the fishermen, and also lead to their taking responsibility for the implementation of the sustainable fisheries. Giving the fishermen more responsibility for the management of stocks will enable adjusting production levels to the demand, and will also strengthen their market position. Producer organizations should be given more power over how they market their products. A closer cooperation between different sectors may prove important for this process. The future CFP should also support producers’ initiatives aimed at certification and labelling of fishery products manufactured as a result of sustainable fishing. Such actions will certainly contribute to increasing the traceability of resources and the transparency in the distribution channel.
Keeping in mind that the Presidency largely means continuing with the previous actions of the European Union and ensuring its consistent operation, I am convinced that Poland will use the upcoming months effectively. I also hope that our voice will influence the works on the CFP reform.
Kazimierz Florian Plocke
Secretary of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development