CONCLUSIONS FROM FISHERIES COUNCIL TO EUROPEAN COUNCIL AT GÖTEBORG, 15-16 JUNE 2001
CONCLUSIONS ON INTEGRATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INTO THE COMMON FISHERIES POLICY
1. Article 6 of the Treaty establishing the European Community provides that environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of Community policies and activities, with a view to promoting sustainable development.
2. The Council understands that integration in the field of fisheries means that the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) should adhere to the objectives and principles of the Community's environmental policy as they are set out in Article 174 of the Treaty. The Council considers that ways to apply concretely the principles of Article 174 to the fisheries policy should be explored.
3. In June 2000 the Fisheries Council submitted to the European Council a report on the state of integration of environmental requirements into the CFP. This report concludes that further and significant actions to integrate environmental requirements into fisheries policy are still needed.
4. The Council recognizes that heavy fishing pressure and the use of inappropriate fishing techniques, along with a series of other factors unrelated to fisheries, threatens marine bio-diversity and the long-term sustainability of the European fisheries sector. Continued fishing pressure may have influenced the genetic variability of some commercially harvested stocks. Possible changes of genetic variability, sensitive species and the level of biodiversity need to be monitored. The impact of fisheries on bio-diversity still requires thorough study, particularly in relation to genetic diversity, long-living species, non-target species and the ecological functions of various ecosystems.
5. The Council agrees that targeted reductions in fishing pressure are the most important management measures in order to achieve sustainable development. Total allowable catches (TACs) are a key instrument in limiting fishing pressure. This instrument needs to be further developed in the light of the Council conclusions on the application of the precautionary principle and multi-annual arrangements for setting TACs.
6. The Community has not yet succeeded in establishing a sustainable balance between fishing effort (the product of capacity and activity) and available fish resources, and this also may have a negative effect on the marine environment as a whole. The Council therefore invites the Commission to develop a fleet policy which would secure appropriate targeted reductions in fishing effort.
7. The Council considers that significantly enhanced technical conservation measures should also be a central part of the overall strategy to integrate fisheries and environment policy. In this context, the Council supports the development and implementation of more selective fishing gears in order to reduce discards, incidental by-catch and impact on habitats. Time and site specific protection measures should be considered in order to protect juveniles or sensitive and threatened species. The Council invites the Commission to continue to develop actively this important dimension of fisheries conservation policy in consultation with all players.
8. The Council notes the importance of adequate data collection and that scientific knowledge of the marine environment must improve so that appropriate and scientifically based environmental actions can be taken. The contribution of scientific research from both the fisheries and the environmental sector must be further developed and a higher level of co-operation is needed in order better to focus research on ensuring sustainable, sound and healthy ecosystems.
9. The Council stresses the crucial importance of effective and comprehensive use of fishery control and enforcement instruments applied in a consistent manner across all Member States. It also notes the importance of satellite monitoring and the progress in its use.
10. The Council is aware of the need for greater involvement of the individual fishermen and other relevant stakeholders in fisheries management with a view to improving the conservation of living marine resources and securing a sustainable use of these resources.
11. The Council notes the Commission's intention to present a communication on a Community approach towards eco-labelling of fishery products. It will examine this communication at the earliest opportunity.
12. The Council acknowledges the critical economic and social situation in coastal regions, which are highly dependent on fisheries. In particular, further consideration should be given, within the CFP review, to small-scale coastal fisheries, which are a force for balance in regional development.
13. The Council agrees that the impact of subsidies on the fisheries sector should be assessed as part of the CFP review. Where they are provided, subsidies should, in accordance with the principles of the Common Fisheries Policy, take full account of the need to conserve fishery resources and to protect the environment.
14. In order to contribute further to the sustainable management of living marine resources, the Community should fully implement international instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the FAO Code of Conduct for responsible fisheries, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the UN Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
15. The Council recognizes the importance of international co-operation to fully achieve the integration objectives and that the Community should adopt a leading role in promoting sustainable management and environmental integration in regional fisheries organisations (RFOs), in other relevant international fora and in the framework of third country agreements, in accordance with the Fisheries Council's conclusions of October 1997.
16. The Council welcomes the Commission’s initiative in presenting, after its communication on fisheries management and nature conservation in the marine environment of July 1999( 1), a communication on elements of a strategy for the integration of environmental protection requirements into the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as well as a biodiversity action plan for fisheries and aquaculture.
17. The Council endorses the orientation given by these documents towards an integration strategy and invites the Commission to pursue its work in order to implement the appropriate legal instruments. In particular, the Council also invites the Commission to explore further the operative implications of the integration of environmental objectives and principles into the CFP.
18. The Council encourages the Commission's initiative to develop a set of indicators in order to measure in an integrated way ecological, economic and social sustainability as well as specific indicators to monitor long term effects on and changes in biodiversity for key target and non-target species and their habitats.
19. The Council invites the Commission to monitor and evaluate the process of the integration of environment and sustainable development into the CFP. The Council calls on the European Council to invite the Commission to present, within the CFP review, concrete proposals for the integration of environment and sustainable development into the CFP, including priority actions such as reduction in fishing pressure and increased selectivity of fishing gear, measurable targets, timetables, improved protection of marine bio-diversity and progress towards an eco-system based management.
FROM HELSINKI TO GÖTEBORG
TO THE COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS ON THE INTEGRATION OF
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INTO THE
COMMON FISHERIES POLICY
1. The Brundtland report "Our Common Future" in 1987 defined sustainability as "development, which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
2. According to the Declaration of Rio in 1992 and Agenda 21 the concept of sustainability embraces three dimensions, i.e. an ecological, social and economic dimension. To reach sustainability these three dimensions must be taken into account simultaneously.
3. Articles 2, 3 and 6 of the Treaty make integration of environmental concerns and sustainable development in all Community policies an underlying policy objective of the Union.
4. The global dimension of sustainable development is a challenge not only facing the fisheries of Europe but the whole world. Issues calling for global actions are a more equitable distribution and improved conditions for people of the world but these issues also involve the responsibility of managing the Earth’s resources efficiently and of securing our common genetic resources for the future.
5. Within the European Union, there has been an increasing focus on food issues and consumers have begun to question the quality of their food and the methods used to produce it. The consumer now has growing demands for food safety, product differentiation, environmental quality and conservation of resources. The priority for tomorrow’s food must be "safe and sustainable". This is a challenge which will call for new knowledge, new ways of thinking and will raise new demands on integrating the environment and sustainable development in all sectors including fisheries.
6. All of the actions taken to attain the objective of sustainability within one sector must be viewed in the light of society as a whole, especially when it comes to the economic and social objectives.
7. In the Presidency conclusions of the European Council in Cardiff in June 1998 the process was started to establish strategies on the integration of environmental concerns and sustainable development in the common sectorial policies. The Councils of Fisheries, General Affairs and Economic and Financial Questions were specifically invited, by the European Council in Cologne in June 1999, to elaborate reports on the integration of environment and sustainable development in their respective policy sectors. By the Helsinki European Council in December 1999 the Fisheries Council was asked to bring this work to a conclusion and to submit to the European Council in June 2001 comprehensive strategies with the possibility of including a timetable for further measures and a set of indicators for these sectors.
8. A report entitled "Integrating environmental issues and sustainable development into the Common Fisheries Policy"( 2) was presented by the Fisheries Council to the European Council at Santa Maria da Feira in June 2000. Though not setting out an integration strategy yet, the Feira report, presenting the legal framework of the CFP with respect to the integration issue, the existing instruments and the results obtained, constituted the first step in the definition of the sectorial strategy as requested by the Helsinki European Council.
9. The present document is a second step in the process of developing an integration strategy, which is linked to and must be co-ordinated with the CFP review to be conducted on the basis of the Commission Green Paper submitted in March 2001. Following the Feira report, it identifies major problems to be addressed, sets out a series of general as well as short and medium term objectives, gives an outline of relevant on-going work and indicates further steps to be taken towards integration.
Major problems, instruments and areas for action
10. The most crucial problem for the fisheries management system to solve is the need to reduce the overall fishing pressure to a sustainable level. The CFP has brought about a reduction in the rate of increase in fishing mortality for several important stocks, but still valuable stocks continue to be exploited at too high levels and various non-target species to be threatened, while conservation of biodiversity has become increasingly important.
11. At present the main instruments provided by the basic regulation( 3) and used within the CFP are the yearly total allowable catches (TACs), technical conservation measures such as rules on gear selectivity and time/area closures and the Multi-Annual Guidance Programmes (MAGPs) aiming at reducing the Community's fishing fleet's capacity and fishing effort.
12. TACs are a key tool in the CFP's resources management. They draw increasingly on the precautionary approach based on limit and reference points for fishing mortality and for spawning stock bio-mass proposed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and/or other recognized international fora. Medium and long term management strategies such as those already drawn up for certain commercially significant stocks in the North Sea and the Baltic are useful instruments with a view to ensuring exploitation levels which will be stable and compatible with the sustainability of the resource in the long term. In addition, the feasibility of applying multi-annual strategies on a multi-species basis deserves to be considered in the future.
13. It is important to encourage the fishing industry and individual fishermen to participate in the responsible management of resources. The Commission is invited to examine the means to promote such participation, in particular via different types of quota management.
14. Discards, offal and by-catches are technically complex problems which need to be resolved in order to improve the conservation of ecosystems, biodiversity and the commercial fish stocks. By-catch of some sensitive species such as sea mammals, birds, turtles and sharks constitutes an increasing concern and may require specific measures. On a global scale, the issue of birds and sharks is being addressed by the FAO action plans( 4). Sea mammals are subject to special protection under the agreements on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and of Cetaceans of the Black and Mediterranean Seas (ACCOBAMS). Full compliance with these action plans and agreements would significantly contribute to maintaining by-catches of the said sensitive species within sustainable limits.
15. The Habitats and Birds Directives( 5), and specially the associated network of protected sites in the marine environment "Natura 2000", constitute a key element for the protection of the marine ecosystem which may have consequences on fisheries. Member States are encouraged, in co-operation with the Commission, to continue their work towards the full implementation of these directives in their exclusive economic zones.
16. Conservation of commercial species is critically dependent on programmes for the protection of spawning stocks and juveniles. In this context, the Council notes the decisions taken on recovery plans for cod and hake in the Irish Sea, the North Sea and waters West of Scotland as well as on the introduction of the BACOMA( 6) window for trawls used in cod fisheries in the Baltic Sea.
17. The Community has addressed the problem of the imbalance between existing fishing capacity and available resources by implementing MAGPs. However, despite significant reductions of capacity achieved in some Member States, the MAGPs and their implementation have not enabled sufficient progress towards reaching a sustainable balance between capacity and resources throughout the Community. Against this background, the Community's fleet policy will need to be reconsidered within the CFP review.
18. In the last decades fishing pressure and efficiency have globally increased in relation to available stocks due among others to the introduction of modern technologies, while subsidies have not yet contributed to sufficient progress towards ensuring a satisfactory level of economic viability throughout the Community fishing industry. Where they are provided, subsidies should, in accordance with the principles of the Common Fisheries Policy, take full account of the need to conserve fishery resources and to protect the environment.
19. Several coastal regions, which receive subsidies, still suffer serious social and economic problems mainly due to high dependency on fisheries and lack of economic diversification. It is important to ensure that fisheries and environmental policies take full account of such dependency.
20. Insufficient scientific knowledge about the functioning of marine ecosystems and the direct and indirect effects of fisheries as well as of factors unrelated to fisheries on the marine environment and bio-diversity is a major problem. Relevant data collection and scientific research and study need to be encouraged in order to enable fisheries management to evaluate more accurately the possible impact of decisions and to take the appropriate measures with a view to making the fisheries sector more ecologically sustainable. Co-operation between marine ecologists and fisheries biologists must be improved in order to implement common/combined studies on fish stocks and marine environment necessary for the development of an ecosystem approach in fisheries management. The initiative from ICES to develop an interdisciplinary programme addressing the science of marine ecosystems and to constitute an Advisory Committee for Ecosystems (ACE) is a step in this direction.
21. Marine ecosystems are affected not only through fisheries activities, but also through effects caused by other human activities such as pollution by hazardous or radioactive substances, physical disturbance and eutrophication through nutrient inputs. The survival rate of many fish species is affected by the polluted marine environment or by contamination of toxic substances so that these species are not suitable for human consumption. Member States should make every effort to eliminate such sources of contamination/pollution and to co-operate with their neighbours, the Community and competent international fora such as i.a. the Convention for the Protection of the Marine environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention), the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment in the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM), the Oslo/Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North–East Atlantic (OSPAR) and the North Sea Conference process, where transboundary action is needed.
22. Changes in the aquatic ecosystems driven by pollution and climate change may have a significant impact on water quality, which is a crucial factor for the future potential of the European aquaculture industry. Biotoxins create difficulties for the shellfish industry and intensive work is needed to understand better these phenomena with a view to developing Community monitoring management standards and strategies to ameliorate the effects on the industry and ensure consumer safety. The aquaculture sector is also dependent on conservation of biodiversity as a basis for future research and the future extension of farming. The recent Code of Conduct for European Aquaculture is an important tool in this respect. Its application should be encouraged.
23. To be effective, the implementation of the CFP management measures must be accompanied by appropriate controls, covering all stages of fisheries activities and using modern technology like satellite monitoring of vessels (VMS). A control programme, focusing on the implementation of consistent methods to control fishing pressure generated by the Community, is scheduled to be adopted during 2001. The programme includes improved monitoring and control activities at sea and on-shore and further co-operation and transparency in control and enforcement among Member States.
24. The Community's action within Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFOs) and third countries' agreements as well as the Community's development policy should be consistent with the fishery policies and regulations applicable in Community waters under the CFP. Fisheries agreements should promote a healthy state of the fishery resources and the use of environmentally friendly fishing techniques, as well as the development of management capacity by the third country to enforce its protective legislation. In this context it is important that the Community finalise the ratification process of relevant global and regional conventions, in particular the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
25. The Community should continue to follow closely and to take account of the work done in the framework of conventions on nature protection which may concern fisheries, such as the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
26. The enlargement process of the European Union must also include support for the new Member States to enable them to participate in the process of setting appropriate environmental targets for their fisheries sectors, with a view to developing a sustainable fishery.
27. The objectives of the CFP should integrate the objectives and principles of the Community's environmental policy as set out in Article 174 of the Treaty, i.e. preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, protecting human health, prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources, promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or world-wide environmental problems, the precautionary principle and the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay. At present, this is only partially the case.
28. The general objectives of the CFP as stated in the basic regulation are the protection and conservation of living aquatic resources and the rational and responsible exploitation of those resources, in appropriate economic and social conditions for the sector, taking account of the implications for the marine ecosystem and aiming at achieving a sustainable balance between resources and exploitation. These objectives have not been fully achieved either. It is therefore necessary to consider, in the context of the CFP review process, fostering the principle of sustainability within the CFP and developing an ecosystem-based management, in order to ensure sustainable, sound and healthy ecosystems in Community waters by restoring and/or maintaining their characteristic structure and function, productivity and biological diversity.
29. The problem of achieving long term sustainability for the fishing sector and the growing aquaculture industry are also related to difficulties in taking and implementing the necessary political decisions. The inclusion of measurable qualitative and quantitative short and medium term objectives in the present objectives of the CFP would contribute to improving transparency and decision making.
Short and medium term objectives
30. Objectives which could be achieved in the short and medium term should include the following elements:
·Action to develop a fleet policy to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing effort and available fishery resources.
·Actions to rebuild major fish stocks that are outside safe biological limits.
·Promote more selective and alternative fishing techniques.
·Implement a biodiversity action plan for fisheries.
·Actions to restore ecosystems or parts of ecosystems (species, habitats) which are threatened with irreversible damage.
·Promote fisheries/environment-integrated research. Improve financial frameworks and encourage scientific agencies to diversify research objectives.
·Improved fisheries control, applied consistently across Member States, with the aim of reducing the negative biological impact of fisheries in order to foster the conservation of the marine ecosystems and the sustainable use of commercial stocks.
·In connection with third country agreements, ensure that Community fleets will conduct responsible and sustainable fishing.
·In RFOs and other regional and international fora, take a leading role in promoting integration in accordance with domestic decisions.
Performance indicators to monitor the impact of integration measures
31. The implementation of the framework for the collection and management of the fisheries data needed to conduct the CFP should in the future include environmental data, in particular with a view to monitoring the level of bio-diversity for some key species and the ecological quality of important marine and coastal ecosystems.
32. The European Environmental Agency is developing a European-wide system for monitoring the status of and trends in biological diversity. In order to complete the system there is a need to develop specific indicators for the fisheries sector to measure on an integrated basis ecological, economic and social sustainability. The indicators should enable monitoring of key parameters of important fish and shellfish stocks, evaluation of time trends in such stocks and assessment of potential impact on bio-diversity.
33. Indicators to monitor long-term effects on bio-diversity will be of special importance for the future fisheries policy. This could call for the development of index-based methods to monitor biodiversity in terms of genetic and habitat variety for key target and non-target species in the marine and coastal environment.
On-going work and further steps towards integration of environment and sustainable development
34. Before the end of 2002 the Council will have to complete the CFP review and to decide on the future orientation of the CFP. A series of questions closely linked to the further development of an integration strategy will be debated in the course of the CFP review. A number of Commission documents which were recently submitted and which are currently under consideration by the Council are highly relevant in this context, in particular:
·the Green Paper on the CFP reform, in particular its chapter on conservation of resources (March 2001);
·the communication on elements of a strategy for the integration of environmental protection requirements into the CFP (March 2001);
·the biodiversity action plan for fisheries (March 2001);
·the communication on the application of the precautionary principle and multi-annual arrangements for setting TACs (December 2000).
35. Other important elements are the European strategy for sustainable development to be adopted by the European Council at Göteborg in June 2001 and the Commission proposal for a 6th Environmental Action Programme (March 2001). The results of the OECD Forum on Sustainable Development and the New Economy in May 2001, of the 5th North Sea Conference in March 2002 and of other relevant work due to be carried out in international and regional fora in 2001 and 2002 could also usefully be considered under the integration process.
36. Further steps towards the formulation of an integration strategy which should include measurable targets, time-tables and a set of indicators will have to be taken after the completion and in the light of the results of the CFP review and taking into account the relevant documents and other elements given above.
( 1) Doc. 10078/99 PECHE 148 ENV 261 – COM (1999) 363 final.
( 2) Doc. 9386/00 PECHE 96 ENV 196.
( 3) Council Regulation (EEC) No 3760/92 of 20 December 1992 establishing a common system for fisheries and aquaculture, OJ L 389/92, 31.12.1992.
( 4) International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks and International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries.
( 5) Habitats: Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992; birds: Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.
( 6) BACOMA: Community supported research project on gear selectivity in the Baltic Sea cod fishery (decision taken by the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission - IBSFC).