Concerning fisheries, ministers had an exchange of views on the review of fishing effort management in western waters.
As regards agriculture, a proposal for renewing the inclusion of carbendazim, a plant fungicide, as an active substance was presented to the Council for adoption. No qualified majority was reached either for or against the renewal.
The Council also had an exchange of views on agricultural product quality schemes.
Finally, the Council took note of requests on freshwater aquaculture and inland fishery within the CFP reform, price volatility of agricultural raw materials, the state of play of negotiations with Mercosur and the impact of CAP changes on developing countries.
During lunch, ministers had a discussion on the role of innovation in revitalising the traditional way of life in rural areas.
Review of fishing effort management in western waters
Ministers had an exchange of views on a Commission communication on the review of fishing effort management in western waters (16257/10).
Most delegations noted the advantages of maintaining this specific fishing effort regime, which they consider a useful management instrument for the limitation of catches in sensitive areas. They all agree that an update of the regime is needed and await the measures proposed by the Commission.
The future common fisheries policy (CFP) reform process offers the opportunity to make this effort regime consistent with the other measures in place.
The Commission presented the communication in November 2010. Its objective was to assess three aspects of the western waters fishing effort regime of 2003:
- its implementation by member states
- the access conditions to outermost regions in the South Atlantic, and
- the effectiveness of the specific effort rule in the Biologically Sensitive Areas (BSA).
The western waters regime was first established in 1995 with the objective of safeguarding the balances that existed at the time of the full integration of Spain and Portugal into the common fisheries policy, and avoiding an increase in fishing effort compared to levels observed before that integration. This effort regime was updated in 2003. The update showed overall significant decreases in the allocation of maximum allowable effort to member states and was also characterised by simplification. This regime distinguishes itself from effort regimes under multiannual management plans: the effort allocation is fixed and does not evolve year-by-year with management targets or quota allocations for underlying stocks.
The conclusions of the communication highlighted that while the 2003 effort regime has succeeded in creating the circumstances for the full integration of Spain and Portugal into the CFP, better alignment with long-term objectives is needed. In addition, while the BSA has contributed to an improved status of some stocks, there is a need to further improve the link between future restrictions and resource management objectives.
The Commission indicated the need to conduct the revision of the 2003 effort regime in parallel with the ongoing reform of the CFP. With this idea in mind, a roadmap will be presented in the spring of 2011 in order to highlight the priorities to be addressed in the near future.
Freshwater aquaculture and inland fishery
Ministers were briefed by the Czech delegation on a declaration also supported by Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia concerning the future role of freshwater aquaculture and inland fishery within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform (8081/11).
A majority of member states supported the declaration highlighting the important role of aquaculture as an important complement to fisheries activities. They are also in favour of specific measures for aquaculture. However, some delegations pointed out that this activity should remain market-orientated.
In view of the forthcoming reform of the CFP, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia, which are landlocked, drew attention to their common priorities in relation to freshwater aquaculture and inland fisheries. In this context, a joint declaration was adopted by these five countries and presented to the Commission in the margins of the Agriculture Council in February 2011.
The declaration highlights the potential of aquaculture and insists on the following points for the future:
- increase the share for freshwater aquaculture in the new European fishery fund
- enhance support for applied research
- focus on the needs of small enterprises, and simplify and harmonise administrative and financial measures
- find common solutions on veterinary and disease control issues; and
- promote freshwater aquaculture products as an environmentally friendly alternative to endangered marine fisheries resources.
The declaration emphasises the distinction between marine and inland fisheries and underlines the specific role of proper management of inland fishery resources that can support rural development and improve the biodiversity of fresh waters.
The Commission agrees with the principles provided by the declaration and hopes to initiate specific measures for aquaculture in the framework of the CFP reform.
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