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Thursday, 17 November 2011

External dimension of the common fisheries policy

The 3123rd Council meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries held in Brussels on 14 November 2011 held an exchange of views on the communication from the Commission on the external dimension of the common fisheries policy (CFP) (12517/11) as part of the proposals for the reform of the CFP.

Most of the delegations noted the importance of the external dimension of the CFP as international fish stocks are crucial for the EU. Furthermore, they insisted also on the key role which should be played by regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and bilateral agreements.

Transparency with regard to the exploitation levels in the waters under the jurisdiction of the coastal states and with regard to evaluation of bilateral agreements including scientific stock assessment was mentioned as an important issue.

Concerning the financial contribution by the ship-owners benefitting from access to the high sea and from access to waters under bilateral agreements certain member states feared about a loss in competitivity while most of the other considered that this contribution should increase as suggested by the Commission.

Level playing field vis-à-vis third countries was considered by the majority of the delegations as an essential dimension of the future CFP. Some member states insisted on trade measures as an instrument for defending the CFP.

Finally, some member states were in favour of Council conclusions following those on the Fisheries Partnership Agreements adopted in 2004 but most of the delegations would prefer that the main elements of the external dimension of the CFP being introduced in the legal proposals. During the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in July 2011, the Council launched the CFP reform process by holding a public exchange of views on Commission proposals on this subject (13028/11). At this occasion, several member states noted that EU's external fishery policy had been given a specific place in the proposals. In its communication on the external dimension of the CFP, the Commission noted that in a context where 85% of the world fish stocks are reported as being either fully exploited or overexploited, the EU is one of the very few major players with a strong presence in all of the world’s oceans through its fleets and investments, bilateral agreements with third countries and participation in most relevant RFMOs. In addition, the EU also constitutes a main market for fishery products in terms of consumption and imports. All this gives the EU a responsibility by contributing to long-term sustainability worldwide through enhancing the performance of RFMOs and improving the functioning of bilateral fisheries agreement.

Source: Council of Ministers