The Director-General of DG MARE, Charline Vitcheva has replied to EAPO on the issue of the banning of deep-sea bottom fishing in VMEs EAPO and KFO ask Vitcheva to Correct Misinterpretation and Misinformation nwwac communication cfp director general

The Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva has replied to the Communication on the function of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) from the NWWAC.

The Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva, has responded to the advice from the North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) regarding ‘Communication on the function of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)’.

In the letter of advice, the NWWAC had asked the European Commission for more information regarding the ‘Fisheries and Oceans Pact’. The fisheries package was adopted on 21 February 2023 and presented to the Advisory Council the following March.

The Director-General responded by saying the pact “in itself” is not a product to be finalised. She continued:

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“Rather, it is the call for a commitment of all those involved in fisheries to a continued comprehensive and constructive dialogue and cooperation to address the key challenges for Europe’s fisheries today. This dialogue has intensified during 2023 with the Council presidency conclusions [1], the opinion of the Committee of Regions [2], the own-initiative reports of the European Parliament [2023/2049(INI), 2023/2124(INI), 2021/2169(INI)], Member State contributions and recommendations of the Advisory Councils and sets the basis for reflections on how to advance the policy, make full use of the opportunities and achievements to date and how to bring the policy and its implementation forward in a meaningful way. Your recommendation and the detailed reflections therein exactly fit that purpose. To have a joint reflection and dialogue on matters most relevant for you in the CFP and its implementation.”

The NWWAC had also asked questions regarding the foresight study on “Fishers of the Future” and the study supporting the evaluation of the landing obligation, and the question if stakeholders including Advisory Councils will be consulted. The Director-General told the NWWAC that these studies have been launched and will include stakeholders. She said:

“The EU-wide participatory foresight project “Fishers of the Future” aims to forecast the role of fishers in society in 2050 as a basis to inform fisheries decisions in the coming years. Fishers are facing a multitude of new challenges: climate change, more and more competition for maritime space, rising costs and the need to transition to greener energies amongst others. This project wants to look ahead and understand how fishers envisage their future. The study will run through 2024 and will be based on desk study, interviews, events and dialogue. A questionnaire presenting some of the preliminary results will be shared in the coming days with a broad range of stakeholders, foremost among which the Advisory Councils. In parallel, the contractor and DG MARE are preparing a further presentation and discussion during a hybrid event on the 19 March 2023 for which all Advisory Councils will receive an invitation shortly.”

On the question of the ‘Landing Obligation‘, Ms Vitcheva said the study supporting the landing obligation started early January 2024, with the final report due to be submitted in January 2025. She also said that stakeholders will likely be consulted in the second and third quarter of 2024. These consultations will be done through e-surveys and interviews.

On both questions the Director-General promised that Advisory Councils would be given enough time to provide their inputs, discuss the consultations internally and provide “feedback and answers are including your realities and perspective.”

Another important topic touched upon in the NWWAC advice was climate change, which the Director-General recognises as “essential for all our work”, She continued:

“The CFP includes rules for managing fisheries to limit the impact of fisheries on the environment, which has a positive effect in terms of climate mitigation. It contains provisions towards adaptation providing management tool to climate-proof fisheries management and improve ecosystem resilience, in particular by reducing fishing pressure and governing EU fleets. It provides tools to assist adaptation in response to shifts in stock distribution and adverse climate impacts through science-based management strategies, flexible quota management and targeted structural support. The CFP Communication includes already reflections on this topic based on studies carried out in 2022. The inputs from Member States and stakeholders and in particular recommendations like yours help us in the reflections ahead and I would like to thank you for those.

Concluding the topic on climate change, Ms Vitcheva says:

“Finally, let me underline that the Commission acknowledges the need to carefully monitor future developments and to take them into account in any future policy changes. New technologies, innovation and research are key for adaptation and mitigation towards climate change.”


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