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)