Council meets tomorrow to discuss Mediterranean fisheries and fuel problem Published: 19 September, 2005
EU farming and fisheries ministers meet in Brussels today and tomorrow under the chairmanship of UK environment secretary Mrs Margaret Beckett.
On Tuesday morning, fisheries issues will be tackled and the Council will discuss a Commission proposal on management measures to address the over-exploitation of fisheries resources and ensure the sustainability of Mediterranean fisheries.
To achieve sustainable fisheries, the Commission proposes to build on the measures that are currently in place and to establish new ones so as to provide a comprehensive management system for Mediterranean fisheries. These measures have been specifically designed to respond to the characteristics of Mediterranean fisheries. They include a progressive increase in net mesh sizes, the strengthening of the current ban on certain trawling activities to protect young fish, the prohibition of certain practices which have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems and habitats, the conservation of swordfish, improved enforcement, the sharing of management responsibilities between the EU and the Member States and the introduction of fishing effort as a management tool. Also, Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg will inform the Council of the precarious economic situation of a substantial part of the European fishing fleet, which has been compounded by the hike in fuel prices. The Commissioner believes that the current difficulties of the sector show the fragility of its economic base. This situation stems from, among other things, declining catches and incomes mainly as a result of overfishing. Necessary tough measures to rebuild fish stocks and ensure the sustainability of fisheries add to the constraints on the sector and prevent increases in production to compensate for the shortfall in income. Yet, the Commissioner believes that the fishing sector has a future if it can be helped through a restructuring process aimed at reaching a better balance between the fleets and the fish resources that can safely be removed from the sea. This would give the industry a more secure economic base that would allow it to ride out cyclical problems, instead of being economically threatened by events such as the high cost of fuel. Commissioner Borg will, therefore, outline some possible measures in the short, medium and long term with a view to strengthening the economic fabric of the sector.
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