Fisheries has been left behind in the EU recovery plan says German Federal Minister, Julia Klöckner speaking to PECH last week
Fisheries has been left behind in the European Union’s recovery plan according to German Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Julia Klöckner.
Speaking at last week’s PECH meeting, Klöckner took questions from fifteen MEP’s who were concerned about the state of fisheries in the European Union.
Many in the industry are concerned with the lack of input the fisheries sector had on creating the “Farm-to-Fork Strategy” and the current relief plan from the Commission which has a serious lack of aid for the EU fishing fleet.
On the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) the German Minister said “This fund is enormously significant for us in the Presidency and we had planned to have a monthly trialogues to try and reach agreement, or at least make as much progress as possible under the German Presidency.
“Of course the final agreement will depend on a number of other points and I am sure that will take place in 2021 but in any case we want to make sure we can make as much progress as possible so that it will be adopted by the end of the year.”
“A depends as well on the EMFF, the outcome of negotiations has been positive so far. Trying to reconcile the view of different Member States.
Like many of the PECH Committee members, Klöckner expressed her concern about the lack of funding provided for fisheries in the Commission’s recovery plan.
“What is regrettable is that fisheries in the recovery plan has not been provided for. I think this is something that is regrettable and we have to make sure resources are available. There are crisis response measures that need to be available for the fisheries sector as well.
“Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe needs to be competitive and we have to ensure that also. There is the issue of the EU conformity as well and higher standards.”
Many of the PECH members forwarded questions on subsidies for renewing the EU fishing fleet in various Member States. On the issue Klöckner said:
“The provision of financial aid or subsidies should not necessarily result automatically in increased catch volumes. Looking at environmental issues, safety on board, modernisation, should be the keywords. This is absolutely crucial.”
Klöckner believed that modernisation of the fleet is important for attracting new blood into the industry.
“I think we have to do a lot more to encourage the younger generations. We have to make the sector attractive to the younger generations. It’s not an easy job. You are out there in all weathers and everybody is aware of this but we are seeing the death of small fishing communities along the coast and we have to tackle this problem by improving working conditions, living conditions, conditions on board vessels and this would be an absolutely important foundation for encouraging a sustainable fishing sector in the future.
“The role of women is also an interesting path to explore as well. The overwhelming majority working in the sector are men and that should be changed. In aquaculture or in the processing sector the figures are somewhat different but in some Member States progress could be made here.
“In many regions small scale fisheries plays an important role in their communities as you are aware.”
Speaking on the lack of inclusion of the fishing sector she said:
“While fisheries play a small role in this, I do share your assessment that fisheries have been excluded somewhat from the Farm-to-Fork initiative.
“When you have an initiative that’s put together by several different committees or DGs it has somewhat fallen through the gaps.”
In relation to political discussions on biodiversity Klöckner said
“I think we are going to have to be a lot stronger in defending fisheries in future negotiations. We don’t want fishing to bear negative connotations when it comes to protecting the seabed or our seas. We believe the fishing sector has a positive role to play in the strategy.
“There are a number of policies which have been prepared within the EU’s remit.
“We are promoting the protection of marine ecosystems but I think it’s worth thinking as well about the people that are being demonised.
“The goal of a sustainable economy when it comes to fisheries is creating a sustainable stock management of all stocks.
“I think there’s an awful lot to be done here from a political point of view. In the Presidency we do have to be an honest broker, so we so need some clarification to what extent the goals set by the Commission are achievable by all Member States.”