Malta is now in charge of the EU Presidency, and will be for the next six months. Malta informs that: “The priorities of the Maltese presidency are driven by the objective to restore trust in the EU, need for a dialogue and reflection on the EU's future as well as the pertinent issues relating to migration, security and economy.”
The Maltese Presidency programme focuses on six key areas: migration, the single market, security, social inclusion, Europe's neighbourhood and the maritime sector.
Concerning fisheries, we are happy to see that the Maltese Presidency is fully committed to sustainability. This commitment will be put to the test during the final negotiations before adoption of the Technical Measures Regulation under this presidency. The Regulation sets, among many other things, the minimum catch sizes [legal term: ‘Minimum Conservation Reference Sizes’ (MCRS)], which apply to both commercial as well as recreational fishers. We find that a number of the sizes proposed are not fit for purpose, but set too low. Article 4 requires that “catches of marine species below minimum conservation reference sizes do not exceed 5% by volume", which is fine. However, if the sizes of juveniles are bigger than the MCRS set in the Regulation – as we believe is the case for a number of species - then more than 5% of juveniles can be caught legally, which is a problem.
Mediterranean issues take up much space in the programme. With regard to fisheries - the Mediterranean Sea is the most overfished of all EU seas - the Presidency will cooperate with the other EU Institutions and in particular support the Commission in establishing a plan for the Mediterranean to enhance the collaboration between EU states and third countries. We applaud such cooperation with 3rd countries as it is impossible to effectively combat overfishing if non-EU members are not involved.
Other fisheries legislation and issues of interest to the EAA on which the Maltese Presidency aims to make significant progress are:
- The transposition of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas’ (ICCAT) recommendations into EU law;
- Define a general approach on the proposal on a multiannual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea;
- Make advancements on the proposal on a multiannual plan on small pelagic species in the Adriatic;
- Continue the negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a Regulation on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets;
The Commission may present three other multiannual plans, which the Presidency also would have to bring forward in the coming months: demersal fisheries in the North Western Waters, the South Western Waters and the Western Mediterranean Sea.
Programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union