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Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

European Union commits €300 million for clean, healthy and safe #Oceans

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The European Union makes 23 new commitments at the 5th edition of Our Ocean conference, in Bali, Indonesia for better governance of the oceans.

The European Commission has announced €300 million of EU-funded initiatives, which include projects to tackle plastic pollution, make the blue economy more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance. This important contribution comes on top of the over €550m committed by the European Union, when it hosted the Our Ocean conference last year in Malta.

High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini said: "The state of our oceans calls for determined global action. With 23 new commitments, the European Union stays engaged to ensure safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans. No country can succeed alone in this endeavour. It requires determination, consistency and partnerships, within and outside our European Union, and it is in this spirit that today we renew the commitment to protect Our Oceans."

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Environment, Maritime affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: "We need the oceans and the oceans need us. We have to urgently reduce marine litter and other sources of pollution, halt illegal fishing and support fragile marine ecosystems. We have to develop our blue economy - create sustainable jobs and growth - supported by cutting-edge research and new technologies. It is for this reason that we are making these commitments."

23 new commitments for Our Ocean

During the Our Ocean conference in Bali this year, the EU has made 23 new commitments for improving the condition of our oceans and tapping their potential. These include €100m for Research and Development (R&D) projects to tackle plastic pollution and €82m for marine and maritime research, such as ecosystem assessments, seafloor mapping and innovative aquaculture systems. The new EU action also includes a €18.4m investment to make the European blue economy – the economic sectors that rely on the ocean and its resources – more sustainable.

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The EU's showpiece Earth observation programme Copernicus features prominently in the list of new commitments. The programme's support will be enlarged with another €12.9 million for maritime security and for research dedicated to coastal environmental services, in addition to the €27m Copernicus funds devoted at Our Ocean 2017 conference. With its Maritime Surveillance System Copernicus has significantly underpinned the EU commitments to reinforce maritime security and law enforcement.

Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: "Earth observation helps citizens around the globe to fight climate change, monitor the blue economy and marine pollution or to manage natural disasters. I am proud to call Copernicus a flagship EU space project. It successfully and impressively supports Member States in keeping the ocean safe, clean and environmentally stable."

The EU is taking action at home but also internationally. As one of the commitments, the European Commission is joining forces with United Nations Environment Programme and other international partners to launch a coalition of aquariums to fight plastic pollution. Marine litter in South-East Asia, notably China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, will be fought with a €9m EU-funded project. Another €7m will go towards protection of marine ecosystems in the region.

Delivering on commitments

Two years ahead of the initial deadline set, 10% of all EU waters have already been designated as Marine Protected Areas. With effective management, adequate funding and robust enforcement Marine Protected Areas can have both conservation and economic benefits.

The 2017 Our Ocean conference in Malta was a game-changer, mobilising funding and ocean action at an unprecedented scale.The European Unionhas already delivered on almost half of EU's 35 commitments made at the last year's conference, equalling €300m.

The EU is now working with Indonesia and other future hosts to keep the momentum going for cleaner and safer seas.

Background

Every year, the Our Ocean conference takes place attracting tangible commitments from governments, companies and non-governmental organisations. Previous conferences, hosted by the governments of Malta (2017), the United States (2014, 2016) and Chile (2015), have seen a wide range of commitments and billions of euro pledged.

The commitments are only one of the ways by which the European Commission works to accelerate the shift towards circular economy. On 16 January 2018 it adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics. On 28 May, new EU-wide rules were proposed to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear, a proposal that was endorsed by the European Parliament on 23 October. This was accompanied by the awareness-raising campaign 'Ready to changeactively supported by many aquariums.

 

Annex: European Union commitments to Our Ocean 2018

Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

Fishing rules: Compulsory CCTV for certain vessels to counter infractions

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Parliament has adopted its negotiating position on the new Fisheries Control system, which will reform the rules that have governed EU fishing activities since 2010. Plenary session  PECH

By 401 votes in favour, 247 against and 47 abstentions, MEPs agreed to use new technologies to better enforce fishing rules and improve security and transparency. They also insist that consumers must know when, where and how the products they buy are caught.

The use of on-board cameras (CCTV) to carry out checks on landing obligations should be compulsory for a “minimum percentage” of vessels longer than 12 meters and which have been identified as “posing a serious risk of non-compliance”. The equipment will also be imposed as an accompanying sanction for all vessels that commit two or more serious infringements. Vessels that are willing to adopt CCTV on a voluntary basis should be offered incentives such as additional allocation of quotas or having their infringement points removed.

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MEPs back the proposal to harmonise sanctions and demand that a “European Union Register” of infringements be set up to centralise information from all member states. They also call for an “appropriate system of sanctions” for infringements committed by recreational fishermen.

Reduce waste, increase security and transparency

In line with the EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, Parliament demands that the origin of fishery and aquaculture products must be traceable throughout the whole food chain, including processed and imported products. Data on the species of fish, the location, date and time it was caught, and the type of gear used should be made available.

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lara AGUILERA (S&D, ES), rapporteur, said: “We took important steps towards having common rules. Inspections on fisheries in Spain must not differ from those in Denmark, Poland or Italy. They must be harmonised and more efficient, without resulting in more red tape for the sector.”

In an effort to reduce marine litter, MEPs agree that all vessels should be obliged to notify national authorities when they lose fishing gear and to carry on board the necessary equipment to retrieve it.

All vessels should also be equipped with a geolocation device allowing them to be automatically located and identified, a measure deemed necessary to improve security at sea, according to the adopted text.

Parliament also proposes to increase the margin of error accepted on the weight of some species estimated by fishermen on board (margin of tolerance).

Next Steps

With today’s vote, Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with Council. According to the current proposal, operators would have four years following the entry into force of the rules to equip vessels with the new technologies required.

Background

On 5 February, the Committee on Fisheries adopted its position regarding the EU’s Fisheries Control system. The proposal updates five existing regulations and harmonise control and inspection systems, as well as sanctions, across EU countries.

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Brexit

Britain secured a good deal on fish, says senior member of negotiating team

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A trade deal between Britain and the European Union is a good agreement for the fisheries industry, allowing it to rebuild itself during a five-and-a-half year transition, a senior member of the UK’s negotiating team said on Tuesday (29 December), write Elizabeth Piper and Paul Sandle.

Fisheries groups have criticized the deal, saying the industry had been sacrificed in the post-Brexit trade talks.

“The deal we’ve got recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters, it says that up front,” the senior member of the negotiating team said.

“We think this is a good deal. This enables the fishing industry to rebuild itself during the transition, we are investing £100 million into programmes to help modernize the fish processing industry over this period,” he said.

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Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

AGRIFISH Council: Ministers decide fishing opportunities for 2021 in the North-East Atlantic and for deep-sea stocks

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On 17 December, the Council agreed on fishing opportunities for 2021 for the fish stocks managed by the EU in the North-East Atlantic, based on a proposal made by the Commission. As regards stocks that will be shared with the UK, The Council also decided as a transition measure to proportionally roll over the 2020 total allowable catches (TACs), with a few limited exceptions, as proposed by the Commission. This will ensure fishing opportunities in the exceptional circumstances surrounding the still ongoing negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. These measures complement the Commission's contingency proposal from last week, which provides for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters, if and when agreed between the EU and the UK, and all conditions for the continuation of the EU fishing operations have been met.

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “I am very pleased that for the stocks the EU is managing on its own, we have brought eight total allowable catches in line with the levels that guarantee the maximum sustainable yields from those stocks. EU ministers have followed my proposals on the precautionary approach for nine fish catch quotas. This is a step in the right direction. The Commission proposal was very ambitious and I welcome today's overall good outcome. We have also managed to respond to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and secure continued fishing for all EU fishermen and women. Vessels can take to the sea on 1 January 2021 and the fishing sector can be reassured that their business is recognized as a priority for the EU.”

The Council has also decided on sustainable catch limits for southern seabass (Bay of Biscay) in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The Council has continued the protection of the vulnerable deep-sea sharks through a prohibition of fishing of this species. In line with the Commission proposal, the Council has agreed to set very limited bycatch for cod in Kattegat (123 tonnes), and roundnose grenadier in Skagerrak and Kattegat (5 tonnes), and a scientific TAC for nephrops in the southern Bay of Biscay (2.4 tonnes). More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.

Based on the Commission's proposal, EU ministers agreed fishing opportunities for 2021 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Sinkevičius said: “In line with our political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations, we implemented in EU law ambitious measures taken in the context of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). On the Western Mediterranean multiannual plan, I regret that ministers were not ready to agree on higher effort reductions, which would have allowed us to restore the fish stocks to sustainable levels faster and to ensure the long-term social and economic viability of the fishermen and women operating in the region. I welcome, however, that the effort reduction will be accompanied by additional national measures to protect the stocks."

For the Mediterranean, the regulation agreed by ministers continues the implementation of the EU multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, by reducing the fishing effort by 7.5%. The Regulation also introduces measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean in 2018 and 2019, in particular measures for eel, red coral, dolphinfish, small pelagic species and demersal stocks in the Adriatic and deep water shrimps stocks in the Ionian Sea, Levant Sea and the Strait of Sicily. For the Black Sea, the quotas for turbot and sprat are maintained at the 2020 level. More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.

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