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EU & Russia Join Forces For Sustainable Fishing

Sustainability Economics Politics +2 more

EU and RUSSIA - European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, addressed the Maritime and Fisheries Challenge lecture in Kaliningrad. In her opening speech she disscussed issues EU and Russian fishermen face, the need for cooperation and the importance of fishing sustainably.

Opening her speech at the Baltic Academy of Fishery Fleet, Maria Damanaki started by warning fishermen of the current challenges they face and those to come. She highlighted the problem of the depletion of fish stocks in the EU saying, “Nine stocks out of ten are overfished and a third of them are in a worrying state. Europe has to rely on imports for two-thirds of its fish. The sector lives on low profits and depends on subsidies for survival.”

Ms Damanaki commented that the reason for this depletion was down to overfishing due to a higher ratio of fishing fleets to fish stocks, which in turn has led to increased pressure on politicions to provide short term solutions for struggling fishermen which, in hindsight, have not been sustainable.

The new response to the issues faced is now to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), therefore changing the way we fish in an effort to uphold ecological, economic and social sustainability.

“Sustainability is one of three main messages I bring you today,” she commented. Ms Damanaki continued saying the move to sustainable fishing is largely down to fishermen themselves.

“As fleet experts, you will have a major role to play... you will have to use your creativity, your inspiration and your hard work. But the challenge is yours to pick up.”

However Ms Damanaki did state that sustainable fishing will only work if the EU and Russia work together, leading her onto her second message of cooperation.

Talking about Europe and Russia's past cooperation, Ms Damanaki also highlighted the importance and potential of tomorrows cooperation.

She commented: “We don’t only have several seas, several stocks and several fishing interests in common; our economic relations are also very important for both parties. The EU and Russia are interdependent in many ways – not least in terms of trade and investment, where the potential for growth is great.”

“Furthermore, the new EU-Russia Agreement will provide a solid legal basis for closer bilateral relations. I see this as a comprehensive agreement covering all areas of our relations – from the economy and energy, via science and education, to security policy and human rights. I attach great importance to the inclusion of solid provisions on trade, investments and energy.”

However, Ms Damanaki noted that “we are not there yet.”

She continued: “This is why we must continue to work closely and improve our relationship even more. We need each other to reach our objectives. The EU and Russia are the first and second fishing powers in the world: wherever we fish, whether it is just outside here or out in the Great Seas, our duty is to fish responsibly and sustainably. If we don’t, who will?”

Ms Damanaki then moved on to discuss her final message; respecting the sea and its inhabitants. She stressed how important this was not only for environmental reasons, but also economic. The message here was; what you put in you get back. If you destroy fish stocks past their capacity to reproduce, then you leave yourselves with nothing.

Ms Damanaki stated that mistakes should not be made twice and therefore the mistakes of previous generations should not be made now, especially with today’s technology and understanding of the threat man poses over the environment.

Talking about ways the sea can be managed and respected, Ms Damanaki stated that by applying spatial planning to the sea, through The Integrated Policy, and collecting more efficient marine data, through Marine Knowledge, the sea can be managed more efficiently.

“Another thing we are doing is creating a common environment for authorities to share data about traffic at sea – merchant ships but also fishing boats, ferries and suspect vessels – so that they can improve both policing activities and rescue operations at sea. If we integrate Maritime Surveillance, we will have a sort of maritime "Europol". “

Looking to the future, Ms Damanaki discussed the opportunities emerging from the Blue Growth strategy, a new initiative which analyses which research and development areas in the maritime domain are the most likely to produce results and jobs in the foreseeable future and deserve immediate attention and means.