EU Fisheries Commissioner says he cannot promise fundamental overhaul of Common Fisheries Policy

EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said he was taking a “cautious” approach to the review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

In an interview with RTÉ Radio 1 Countrywide during his two-day visit to Ireland early last week, the commissioner said he “cannot promise” any fundamental changes.

The Irish Southern and Western Fish Producers’ Organization believes that only a thorough review of the CFP can help address the impact of Brexit on the Irish fleet’s reduced access to quotas.

Commissioner Sinkevičius said the next 10-year review of the CFP, which is to be completed by December 2022, will have to take into account not only Brexit, but also climate change, pollution and sustainable fishing.

“We will do a review, and we will listen to stakeholder concerns, and we will look at some changes, but I cannot promise that we will reopen the CFP,” he said.

“Fishermen have to go through a lot to comply with the rules, and I think it would be unfair to make a lot of changes, so I’m very careful here, and only after a review is done. and as gaps are identified that we can take further action, ”he said.

Commissioner Sinkevičius, who also owns the environment and oceans portfolios, acknowledged the heavy burden on Ireland as a result of the Brexit deal.

He said he had planned to come to Ireland for some time but was unable to do so due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Lithuanian commissioner met Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue in Killybegs last Monday, before speaking with representatives of the Irish fishing industry he described as ” frank ”.

He said Ireland was entitled to the largest proportion of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) and that the flexibility clauses allowed the Irish government to allocate funds to the sectors most affected.

The RAB and the new European Sea Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (FEMAF) would help the Irish industry “move forward” by compensating those who would be required to adapt to a new reality, he said. he declares.

“We had nine Member States that were affected, and we knew from the start that the fishing industry had nothing to gain from Brexit,” he said.

The unilateral decision by Norway and the Faroe Islands to exploit mackerel – a species he called “endangered” – is “unacceptable”, but also a consequence of Brexit, the commissioner said.

“We were striving to come back to the table and have a lasting deal like we did in 2014. Unfortunately, the two sides did not agree with this,” he said.

The EU aimed to prevent an escalation of the problem and to try to resolve it in a “diplomatic manner”, the commissioner said.

Commissioner Sinkevičius is heavily involved in the implementation of the European Green Agreement and underlined that the support of fishermen and farmers is essential for it to work.

He praised Ireland’s plans for offshore renewable energy, but warned that competing interests must be taken into account, including the fishing industry, shipping, tourism and the health of the marine ecosystem. .

The renewable energy industry must also comply with EU directives on birds and habitats, he warned.

EU member states must develop marine spatial plans that allow for sensitive management, he said.

A podcast of the full interview can be heard here

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