As part of a tour of the Eastern Baltic region, the Commissioner undertook a mission to Latvia in which she met with the Minister, visited a fish processing factory and participated in a stakeholder roundtable.
Damanaki is seeking support for the Commission’s proposals for the Common Fisheries Reform (CFP), which is scheduled to be finalised at the beginning of 2013. This is the first CFP reform for 12 EU Member States who joined from 2004 onward, including those from the Eastern Baltic. In September, the European Parliament plenary will take place on most of the reform package and the Council working groups have made significant progress on much of the reform so this mission represented a late rallying call to a Member State not wholly onboard with their proposals.
However, the key messages of rebuilding fish stocks to their maximum sustainable yield, which it is projected would create 100,000 jobs, increase landings by 3 million tonnes per year (a 33% increase on today’s figures) and generate €3.2 billion annually, was not universally welcomed. While this objective was praised by a group of NGOs who submitted their priorities for the reform to the Commissioner, Damanaki was attacked in the national media. She was decried as a “Greek bearing only bad news” and criticised for not providing subsidies for engine modernisation, which contribute to overfishing.
On 9 May the Commissioner will visit Lithuania with another mission scheduled for Estonia shortly after. She will likely repeat the message of planning for the long-term so that sustainable stocks can lead to a sustainable industry that is not dependent on subsidies, and call for Member States to support her in achieving this aim.