Next EU Parliament fisheries committee will start over from scratch

A hearing of the Fisheries Committee, one of the smallest in the European Parliament. [BELOT/EP]

Only 10 of the 27 outgoing members of the Fisheries Committee (PECH) in the European Parliament were re-elected in the EU elections, four of them on borrowed time as Brexiteer MEPs. Chair and vice-chairs were wiped clean as well.

A good level of expertise and previous experience in the field of maritime affairs have always been good starting prerequisites for being a member of this small but highly technical committee in the Parliament.

However, when the PECH Committee resumes its work in July, a lot of new faces will be around the room, as only 10 of the provisionally appointed MEPs had already been members in the past parliamentary term.

The days in the European Parliament are also numbered for four of them –  David Coburn, Richard Corbett, Diane Dodds and Nathan Gill, as they are elected as British representatives and are supposed to pack up when Brexit will happen.

Former fisheries MEP Liadh Ní Riada, daughter of Irish composer Seán Ó Riada, is waiting to know her own destiny, as she triggered a full recount in Ireland South constituency after she lost by just 327 ballots. The outcome of the recount is only expected after 21 June.

MEPs clash with Commission over sardines and anchovies

The European Parliament adopted on Tuesday (13 November) a report on regulating mainly sardine and anchovy catches in the Adriatic Sea, rejecting the essence of the European Commission’s proposal after a heated exchange with EU fisheries boss Karmenu Vella.

Heads’ do-over

On day one, the many newcomers will be asked to appoint the heads of the committee, without clear reference marks, as no outgoing chair or vice-chairs will be present.

After two mandates, the former president of the Fisheries Committee, the Breton Alain Cadec, lost his seat paying the price for the bad performance of the French centre-right party Les Républicains. Listed as 13th for the Gaullist party, he’s also down for the count in case of post-Brexit allocation of seats.

Surprisingly, the two outgoing vice-presidents running for re-election, Jarosław Wałęsa of Poland and the German Werner Kuhn, also lost their seat in the hemicycle.

The son of the better-known Nobel prize winner and leader of Solidarność Lech Wałęsa was defeated in his constituency by Magdalena Adamowicz, the wife of the Gdańsk mayor murdered last January.

The other two vice-chairs in the last parliamentary term, Italian socialist Renata Briano and Swedish Green Linnéa Engström, did not stand for re-election: the first for personal reasons, the latter for having accepted a job as program director for the Scandinavia and Baltic Sea Region at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the non-profit organisation which releases the homonymous eco-certification for sustainable fishing.

Who stays in

With such a high number of newcomers, two experienced MEPs, Clara Aguilera and Ruža Tomašić, will most probably be candidates for the next chair of the committee.

In her past mandate, Spanish socialist Aguilera succeeded in carrying out the sensitive trilogue on the first EU management plan for fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean and she was also vice-chair of the sister Agriculture committee.

The centre-right Croatian Tomašić will be busy with the negotiations with EU ministers on the fisheries multiannual plan in the Adriatic. She has rejected rumours of running for president in her country, saying she has a lot to do in Brussels.

The two Dutch MEPs, Peter Van Dalen and Annie Shreijer-Pierik, quite active in favour of electric pulse fishing in the last mandate, were re-elected, as well as the French far-right Sylvie Goddyin and the Portuguese João Ferreira.

The latter has in the meantime become the leader of his party Coligação Democrática Unitária and that could, therefore, decide to choose another committee.

MEPs confirm electric fishing ban, despite eleventh-hour Dutch effort

The European Parliament approved on Tuesday (16 April) new technical rules on fishing activities and catching methods allowed within EU waters, confirming that the use of electric currents or ‘pulse fishing’ will be illegal from mid-2021.

Some substitute members of the past mandate could also be interested in joining other Fisheries MEPs as fully-fledged members, like the Italian Five Star Rosa D’Amato, who tabled some crucial amendments during the Adriatic multiannual plan’s discussion, and the Portuguese EPP member Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, especially if the next working programme focuses on the broader and environmental-friendly topic of ocean conservation.

The PECH committee, however, will lose some of its heavyweight champions, such as the Italian Green Marco Affronte and the Romanian liberal Norica Nicolai, both because their parties failed to reach the national electoral threshold.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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