Jānis Dūklavs presented the priorities of the Latvian presidency in the field of fisheries for the next 6 months. He underlined the need to strike a balance between economic interests and sustainability, to ensure the fisheries sector’s future.
The number one priority of the Latvian presidency will be the implementation of the landing obligation rules, which entered into force on January 1st. Alain Cadec, Chair (EPP/France) of the PECH Committee, and representing the European Parliament in the trialogue on this issue, expressed his wish that an agreement be reached in the upcoming weeks, but not at any costs. Among other priorities are the talks on Maximum Sustainable Yield. The Presidency is also hoping for an agreement in the Council before the end of its term on the multiannual management plan for the Baltic Sea so that trialogue discussions with Parliament can be opened thereafter. Jānis Dūklavs also announced that Latvia would open negotiations to renew the external fisheries agreements that ended in 2014.
MEPs asked him about the proposal of the Commission to ban driftnets, and about deep-sea fishing. On the first issue, the Minister acknowledged that the reaction in Council to the proposal to ban drift gill-nets had been rather negative and that solutions would have to be found on a case-by-case basis. On the second issue, Jānis Dūklavs announced that he planned to hold discussions with member states on this issue in March.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella presented the priorities of the Commission for 2015. He mostly discussed the proposal of the Commission to ban the use of driftnets. Several MEPs questioned him on this issue, and Alain Cadec officially called on the Commissioner to withdraw the proposal. Commissioner Vella asked the Parliament to adopt an official position on this text, and said that if such a common position was reached, the Commission would be willing to modify the proposal. On technical measures, the European Commission intends to present a proposal before the end of 2015, to simplify the rules and bring them in line with the new Common Fisheries Policy. On multiannual management plans, the Commission wants to bring forward proposals at the end of the year on certain demersal species in the North Sea, and certain pelagic species.