Full house for the roundtable on technical measures organised by Blue Fish Europe and MEP Gabriel Mato


On 29 November, MEP Gabriel Mato-Adover (EPP, Spain), member of the PECH Committee, and Blue Fish Europe, the European Foundation for the Promotion of Sustainable and Responsible Fisheries, organized a roundtable in the European Parliament on “The technical measures regulation: what future for the regionalization of fisheries in Europe?”

With an audience of 50 participants from the European Parliament and Commission, Permanent Representations, Regional Representations and NGOs, this event provided an opportunity to exchange views on this complex file, which plays a very important role for the entire fisheries sector.

The objectives of this roundtable were two-fold:

  • Offer a speaking platform for all the different stakeholders involved in the revision of the technical measures regulation, and
  • Bring closer together policy-makers and actors of the fisheries sector.

As such, the following speakers were invited to present the state of play of the dossier, or their first-hand experience implementing the current technical measures:

  • MEP Gabriel Mato-Adover, Rapporteur on the file “Conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures”
  • Elisa Roller, Head of Unit A2, Common Fisheries Policy and Aquaculture of DG MARE, in charge of the dossier within the European Commission
  • Javier Touza, President of ARVI
  • Olivier Le Nézet, President of Blue Fish Europe & President of the Regional Fisheries Committee of Brittany
  • Giampaolo Buonfiglio, President of the Coordination of Fishing Alliance of Italian Cooperatives
  • Pieke Molenaar, Marine Scientist at the Wageningen Marin Research

MEP Gabriel Mato opened the debate, and welcomed this opportunity to gather views from different types of stakeholders, as this file is very technical, and members of the European Parliament.This valuable input from all concerned actors will give an important contribution to the report on technical measures.

He then moved on to explain that the objective of the European Parliament was to come up with a text that would be very clear, understandable and applicable for and by fishermen. He emphasized the need to move towards increased regionalization, and the need to provide the sector with rules that can be adapted quickly to the ever-changing realities of fish stocks.

Elisa Roller presented the key elements of the Commission’s proposal, and then focused on the key issues raised by this new proposal. Those include:

  • How to simplify the existing rules without compromising the minimum standards for conservation?
  • To what extent the quantified targets are necessary to monitor the effectiveness of technical measures?
  • How to find the right balance between what should be in the remit of co-legislation and what should be in the remit of regionalization?

The Commission wishes to allow for flexibility to introduce tailored measures to each sea basin, through regionalisation. Yet, the Commission needs to be able to step in, in the event where Member States cannot reach an agreement to propose joint-recommendations.

Ultimately, the Commission is trying to find the right balance between protecting the marine environment and resources, and not constraining the fisheries sector too much.

Javier Touza, Olivier Le Nézet and Giampaolo Buonfiglio presented the points of view of the fisheries sector, from the perspective of sustainable development, the Atlantic area and the Mediterranean area, respectively.

All three welcomed the Commission’s proposal to review the technical measures regulation, as they all agreed that the current rules are sometimes outdated, very complex and difficult to implement. Yet, they regret that the proposal is not going far enough. Because each sea basin has its own specificities, all three speakers agreed that increased regionalisation was much needed. They also asked the European Commission to take a holistic approach when revising the regulation, and appreciate the environmental, social and economic impacts on an equal footing.

Finally, Pieke Molenaar presented his research findings, making the point that in the North Sea, the existing technical measures prevent fishermen from using more selective fishing gears, when they are working towards increased selectivity, to reduce discards. He presented an example of a sepnep trawl, which has two separated nets, to allow the smaller fish to escape. This new trawl has been tested with fishermen, and has yielded great results, in terms of discard reduction. However, because of existing technical measures, it is not allowed to use such a trawl in the North Sea.

During the Q&A session, MEP Renata Briano (S&D, Italy), shadow-rapporteur on the file, asked the representative of the Commission to explain what was new in the Commission’s proposal and what was not. Elisa Roller explained that this revision was not only a copy/paste exercise. The European Commission simplified the proposal where they could, and changed measures following the advice of scientists. All the new elements in the regulations stem from new commitments and new regulations that need to be applied.

Other questions were asked by representatives from Seas at Risk and European Anglers Alliance.

The presentations from speakers are available below for more information.