Fisheries Committee adopts measures against flag hopping

MEPs called for more regulation of the EU long distance fleet, as the European Parliament’s fisheries committee today adopted a report setting out its opinion on the external dimension of the EU fisheries policy.

External dimension
Isabella Lövin’s (Greens/EFA) report on the external dimension was approved by 24 votes in favour and 1 against. The report contains measures to deter so-called flag hopping, whereby vessel owners shift the flag of their vessel. “MEPs today supported a proposal that a vessel that flags out and then returns to EU flag will have to wait two years before fishing under the EU’s bilateral agreements,” the rapporteur said after the vote.

The Lövin report is scheduled to be voted in plenary in October. The report is not legislative but will have influence over how the legislative Basic Regulation deals with the external dimension.

Shark finning
MEPs also voted on some reports which are not part of the CFP reform, for example the Patrão Neves report on shark finning. The Commission had proposed to remove all exemptions to the ban on removing fins from sharks.

The proposal by rapporteur, Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (EPP), however, is that vessels with special fishing permits should be allowed to perform shark finning. “The proposal by the Commission would increase costs and induce economic losses,” Maria do Céu Patrão Neves said in a statement.

During the vote today contradictory amendments were adopted. This left MEPs in some confusion as to whether the Commission or the rapporteur had prevailed. MEPs said after the vote that they will make amendments that can ensure clarity in the EP plenary vote.

Alain Cadec (EPP) presented his draft report on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The discussion in the committee revealed a split in the EPP group, as Alain Cadec proposes money for fleet renewal but EPP members Carmen Fraga and Jarosław Wałęsa expressed firm opposition to fleet renewal.

EU subsidies for the building of new fishing vessels were removed in the last CFP reform 2002, because such funds were deemed to contribute to fleet overcapacity. Alain Cadec now proposes to reintroduce public funds for building new fishing boats, as he claims the old age of many fishing vessels raise safety concerns.

Ulrike Rodust (S&D) said that Alain Cadec’s proposal was “rather like Christmas. It contains a lot of gifts, but I’m wondering if you have thought through how all these measures are to be financed.” Alain Cadec replied that he lacked the white beard of Father Christmas and that his report sticks to the budget constraints of € 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020 proposed by the Commission.

More information:
Meeting documents

Axel Naver

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