MEPs that travelled to the north-western Spanish region of Galicia have presented their findings and concerns about the area’s all-important fishing industry to the fisheries committee of the European Parliament. EurActiv Spain reports.
Among other issues, MEPs highlighted the worries Galician fishermen have about fishing quotas and persistent problems, such as pollution.
Popular Party MEP Francisco José Millán Mon (EPP) presented the findings of the Galician trip, which was undertaken from 29 to 31 March, during which parliamentarians met with industry organisations and public authorities.
Thousands of people braved the Spanish rain to protest in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela over the regional government’s alleged betrayal of its all-important fishing industry.
Millán Mon described the visit as being “useful and enriching”. It included meetings with representatives of the processing, canning and aquaculture industry, which allowed the fisheries sector to explain the difficulties they are facing and their demands for future change.
The same deputy also said that visits to research institutes highlighted the “high standards” to which fishery products are held in the Galician community.
In addition, Socialist Party MEP José Blanco (S&D) said the trip “met the expectations” of the parliamentarians, but acknowledged that a greater participation of foreign representatives on the visit would have been better, given that only three (and all EPP affiliated) were able to make it: president of the Committee on Fisheries, Republican MEP Alain Cadec; Werner Kuhn (CDU); and Jarosław Wałęsa (Civil Platform).
The lawmakers, six in total, met with diverse representatives of the region’s fishing industry, from shipowners to shellfishermen, as well as the regional government of Galicia, the Xunta.
The purpose of the visit was to learn about the main difficulties and the situation as it is after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Last year, it was announced that Galicia’s fishing industry would receive €371 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (FEMP), which accounts for 50% of the money that will be sent to Spain from the fund, highlighting how important the sector is to the region.
Galician fishing boats make up 50% of Spain’s fishing fleet, the third largest in the EU, which comprises some 13,000 vessels.
Spain’s Minister for Agriculture, Isabel García Tejerina, called for unused fishing quotas to be “redistributed” to other countries, during a Council of Ministers meeting on Monday (15 February).
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the EU’s fisheries policy. It sets quotas for which member states are allowed to catch what amounts of each type of fish, as well as encouraging the fishing industry by various market interventions.
It was first introduced in the 1970s and underwent its latest update in 2014.
The policy has proved divisive, with its advocates highlighting the CFP’s provision of state-of-the-art scientific know-how to fishermen and its prioritisation of sustainability; while its detractors have pointed out that the CFP’s rules means fishermen are forced to dump a significant portion of their catch, as well as arguing that it has done little to mitigate the environmental impact of the fishing industry.