27 August 2014
E-006390-14
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Alfred Sant (S&D)

Question:

With reference to tuna fishing in the central Mediterranean and the contiguous areas, could the Commission specify the exact policy that is being, or should be, followed with regard to tuna discards resulting from the operations of traditional fishing boats when they reach their set quotas and inadvertently exceed regulatory limits in one catch?

Does the policy currently in place not lead to fishing resources being wasted and, indeed, to a culture of clandestine overfishing?

In the Mediterranean tuna sector, should a greater distinction not be made between the rules applicable to industrial fishing trawlers and those applicable to traditional, and especially smaller, fishing boats? The current rules for industrial trawlers seem to be generating large numbers of unreported discards — which is harmful for tuna stocks — while creating burdensome constraints for traditional fishing boats that result in an unnecessary waste of fish resources, even if this waste is marginal in terms of tuna stocks.

Answer:

31 October 2014

Answer given by Ms Damanaki on behalf of the Commission

In principle, the reformed Common Fisheries Policy(1)(CFP) requires any EU vessel, irrespective of its size and fishing area to land all catches in fisheries subject to catch limits or, in the Mediterranean, also subject to minimum sizes. This obligation is to enter into force on a fishery-by fishery basis and from 1 January 2015 it will apply to large pelagics (bluefin tuna, swordfish, albacore tuna, bigeye tuna, blue and white marlin).

However, EU vessels also have to comply with international rules of Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) if they fish for stocks under their purview. Therefore, the new CFP states that the landing obligation is without prejudice to the Union’s international obligations and gives the possibility to adopt delegated acts for the purpose of implementing such obligations. A delegated act that will include the obligations for tunas in the Mediterranean laid down by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is preparation by the Commission.

It should be noted that the new CFP calls for the projection of its internal principles to the international level. This includes promoting the gradual elimination of discards by RFMOs for all fishing vessels, including ICCAT.

As regards the need for a greater distinction between the rules applicable to industrial fishing trawlers and those applicable to traditional and small fishing boats, there are no EU trawlers operating for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. Trawlers operating for albacore are active in the Mediterranean, but the Commission is not aware of any specific by-catch issue affecting them and generating large discards.

(1) Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the common fisheries policy — OJ L 354, 28.1.2013, p.1.