Last Wednesday, July 8th, the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius joined the virtual meeting of the North Western Waters Advisory Committee’s (NWWAC) Executive Committee.
In his address, the Commissioner highlighted various challenges and opportunities facing the fishing sector, in particular, the achievement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) objectives, the European Green Deal, the further development of a sustainable blue economy and mitigating the impacts of both Brexit and the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Sinkevičius identified the CFP as having successfully managed to bring average fishing mortality to long-term sustainable levels in the northeast Atlantic over the last decade, adding that this serves as proof that sustainability is feasible, and that it makes economic sense.
However, the full implementation of the CFP remains his priority, in order to facilitate the reporting on the functioning of the CFP scheduled for the end of 2022, he said.
During the exchange, members of the Executive Committee put forward questions relating to fisheries management according to the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) principle, stocks for which such references do not exist, fisheries and seafood in the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies, the landing obligation and the technical conservation measures.
Also, the question of recreational fisheries under the CFP, the blue economy and the impact of increased wind farm developments were added to the discussion. In a statement, the NWWAC said they greatly appreciated the Commissioner’s attention to detail when addressing these topics.
Regarding Brexit, the Commissioner agreed that the negotiations are complex, and the respective positions are far apart. Post-Brexit the shared management of more than100 stocks will have to be agreed between the EU and the UK, which will make it the most comprehensive fisheries agreement ever negotiated.
He identified that the work of the NWWAC will be essential, given the fishery activities in North Western Waters and the interlinkages between the respective industries, and called on all members of the NWWAC to build on the decades of collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders, concluding that the AC will continue to play an important role in helping to tackle the many upcoming challenges.