The NWWAC have expressed their concerns to DG MARE over prejudices from the Commission against fishers

The NWWAC have expressed their concerns to DG MARE over prejudices from the Commission against fishers

The North Western Waters Advisory Council has called on the DG MARE to address internal prejudices against EU fishers that are manifesting in the Commission.

The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) have written to the Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva after reviewing and discussing the Commission’s explanatory note on the proposal for a revision of the EU-fisheries control regulations.

The NWWAC writes, “This note was apparently circulated to some MEPs in preparation of a plenary vote on the PECH Committee’s report on the Commission’s proposal. The NWWAC members have perceived in this note that the European Commission considers that EU fishers constantly operate in illegality and generally are cheaters. Therefore, the NWWAC members expressed their support for the Europêche open letter EP(21)18 to Commissioner Sinkevičius urging the Commission to stop casting a shadow of suspicion on the European fisheries sector and its compliance, and to respect the principles in the EU democratic legislating process.”

The NWWAC expressed their concerns to the Director-General on the lack of participation of Commission representatives in recent Advisory Council meetings since autumn 2020. The NWWAC letter states:

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“The combination of both issues has raised serious concerns amongst the members in relation to the usefulness of the AC’s work and the support for their participation by the people they represent. Such lack of participation is unprecedented as Commission representatives always actively participated in NWWAC events previously to update on ongoing dossiers as well as to explore and provide feedback on members’ queries. It has been commented that attendance of the NWWAC meetings by Commission representatives cannot be substituted by more frequent Inter-AC meetings.”

The Advisory Council warned the Director-General that the letter accusing fishers of carrying on illegal fishing activities had eroded trust and was extremely divisive, damaging the publics perception of the industry.

“NWWAC members wish to continue the good cooperation with the Commission but feel that in light of the unfounded allegations made in the explanatory note, tarring all fishers with the same brush and accusing all of infringing on the current legislation, a lack of trust is evidenced. This is considered extremely harmful for the image of an entire sector that has been subject to major changes on the road to sustainability and still faces many challenges. This is unfair to all the hard working and honest fishers who want the best for the sustainability of their industry and who have their communities at heart.”

The letter concluded by asking the Director-General to deal directly with the issue and to also explain the Commission’s lack of participation in the Advisory Council’s meetings.

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