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MEP Izaskun Bilbao denounces COREPER's rejection of the bluefin tuna management plan

Bateau peche pays basque

Late on Monday night, our Basque MEP Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (EAJ-PNV) denounced what she considers to be a step backwards in terms of transparency in setting fishing quotas. She thinks it is unusual that the Conference of Permanent Representations of the Member States (COREPER) has rejected the interinstitutional agreement reached by Parliament and the Council on the long-term management plan for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic. COREPER’s reason for rejecting this plan was because it allegedly infringes on the competences of member states.

On Monday, the European Parliament debated a report which would transform the recovery plan for bluefin tuna, agreed at an international level in 2006, into a long-term management plan for the fishing of this species. This is possible because scientific reports point to a sufficient recovery of the stock. The plan, which will ensure that fishing levels don’t cause the species to drop to numbers as low as at the beginning of the century, was adopted, following the recommendations of the International Commission for the Protection of this species (ICCAT).

MEP Izaskun Bilbao expressed herself favourably on the management plan yesterday: "The recovery plan has been successful - we have overcome a dangerously high risk of extinction that affected this species in the first decade of the century. Now, we can replace it with a long-term management plan like those in place for many other species. A plan that guarantees the protection of the stock at sea and that allows the fishing sector to continue working by allowing it to plan its activities in the medium and long term".

Izaskun Bilbao also highlighted as another positive element of the plan the fact that it is in line with the recommendations of the International Commission for the Protection of Atlantic Tuna. She also stressed that "it incorporates a guarantee clause based on the experience acquired during the pandemic. Fishermen will have leeway to make up for fishing days that may be lost due to the application of mobility restrictions associated with COVID".

However, after underlining these virtues, she also pointed out "the fly in the ointment". She described as "unusual" COREPER's refusal to "sanction the agreement we reached last 10 November in trialogue", which "obliges me to once again make a plea for the role of the European Parliament in the field of fisheries. My first report when I arrived here twelve years ago was a management plan for the anchovy fishery which ran aground in an institutional conflict with the Council. Since then, Parliament's position in favour of scientific criteria for setting fishing quotas and establishing them with more transparency has gained strength. And we will continue to work to ensure that transparency and science put an end to the obscurantism that some governments seem to indulge when setting TACs and to the last-minute surprises that add a completely avoidable risk to fishermen's activities.”