QeA to EU Commission – Minimum dimensions for clams and protection of the fishing industry

Question for written answer to the Commission
Matteo Salvini (NI) , Mara Bizzotto (NI) , Mario Borghezio (NI) , Gianluca Buonanno (NI) , Lorenzo Fontana (NI)

Subject: minimum dimensions for clams and protection of the fishing industry

Under the terms of Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006, the fishing and sale of marine organisms smaller than the sizes specified in said regulation and its appendices are prohibited.

In particular, the abovementioned regulation prohibits the fishing, transportation and sale of clams which measure less than 2.5 cm.

This restriction could well cause serious damage to the European clam fishing industry and also exposes it to the risk of sanctions in the event of non-compliance.

In this context, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. On what criteria was the decision to set a minimum size of 2.5 cm for fishable clams based?
2. What steps has the Commission taken or does it intend to take to protect European fisherman, since they will inevitably be less competitive than their counterparts in third countries, who are not subject to the same restrictions and who can export their products, amongst others, to the European market?

Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission – 30th March 2015

The minimum conservation size of 2.5 cm for the different species of Venus and carpet clams was originally introduced by Council Regulation (EC) No 1626/94 and subsequently, upon a specific request by the European Parliament, maintained in the new Council Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 on consideration that the industry had not only adjusted very well to their regulation but were calling for its reintroduction in the Commission proposal.

The STECF also provided advice on selectivity improvements of the fishing practice to match with the minimum conservation size.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 also applies to marketing of fishery products caught in the Mediterranean and the Member States can prevent importation and trading of undersized specimens from Mediterranean third countries provided the following conditions apply:

the fishery product has been caught in Mediterranean waters
the measures for imported products are no more disadvantageous than for internal trading
there is no discrimination amongst products coming from different third countries.

(Source: EU Parliament website)

Written QeA to EU Commission – IUU Regulation (combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing)

Question for written answer to the Commission – Nicola Caputo (S&D) – 4th December 2014

During the confirmation hearings for the Juncker Commission, the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said that his priority will be to protect the natural capital on which sustainable growth depends and safeguard the health and well-being of citizens. He also said that he wanted to consult very soon with the European Parliament and the Council on updating the IUU Regulation.

Furthermore, it is a known fact that illegal fishing is a threat to the sustainable use of resources and compromises the common fisheries policy and international efforts to improve the management of ocean resources and seas.

In light of the above, can the Commission, as a whole and without prejudice to the competences of the Member States, explain how it proposes to:

1. more effectively combat this highly profitable practice, restricting access to the market to certified products only?
2. guarantee greater surveillance and more effective sanctions for violations?
3. increase awareness of the practice among consumers and users?

Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission – 3rd February 2015

The EU has put in place a comprehensive system of rules dealing with the control of fishing activities, the combat of illegal fishing and the elimination of the access of IUU fish to the EU market as set out in the Control(1) and IUU Regulations(2).

With respect to the combat of the IUU activities the Commission is working on the following areas:

Establishing a global and integrated common approach to fisheries control ‘from the net to the plate’,
Enhancing mutual cooperation between all Member States, third countries, the Commission and the European Fishery Control Agency,
Developing a culture of compliance for all stakeholders and disseminating useful information to raise awareness,
Ensuring a level-playing field across the EU in terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU IUU rules,
Applying effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for serious infringements against these rules,
Guiding Member States on issues concerning the application of the EU catch certification system,
Promoting robust and targeted controls at EU ports through an active use of the mutual assistance system, exchange of information and best practices between the Commission and Member States,
Cooperating with third countries in addressing IUU problems and achieving structural changes in their fisheries management systems to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

The Commission intends to continue and reinforce its work in those areas in the coming years.

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20.11.2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy, OJ L343/1, 22.12.2009.
(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, OJ L 286/1, 29.10.2008.

(Source: European Parliament)