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Press Release
Octavie Modert at the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Date of release : 12-03-2005

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Octavie Modert, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development and Joe Borg, European Commissioner responsible for the Common Fisheries Policy, represented the European Union at the Ministerial meeting on fisheries of the FAO on 12 March. The meeting in Rome focused on two important issues: the Tsunami rehabilitation plan for the regions affected by the tsunami and secondly on the objective of combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU fishing) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) developments.

Octavie Modert conveyed the EU's support to the ministerial declaration which comprises recommendations guiding the long-term interventions of the international community aiming at the rehabilitation of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the tsunami-hit regions. These sectors are the second in importance for the economies of the countries after the tourism industry.

She reiterated the European Union' firm commitment "to maintain a long-term effort to help the disaster-stricken countries and communities during the successive phases of emergency aid, reconstruction and rehabilitation", not just concentrating on the immediate short term response. 

She emphasised the importance of United Nations in coordinating aid and its agency FAO for its expertise in fishery, aquaculture and agriculture. 

The Secretary of State stressed the importance to consider the needs and priorities identified by those affected. "In the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction we insist on taking due account of national and local priorities, actual needs and choices of governments concerned in order to respect the principle of ownership," she said. "The respect of existing fishing practices in the areas affected are of great concern to us, as well as the sustainability of the fisheries sector in the long term. Hence we should agree today on recommendations guiding the interventions towards a sustainable rehabilitation," she added.

Commissioner Joe Borg informed meeting of the EU's actions regarding the mobilisation of international experts for technical support in the tsunami-hit regions as well as the potential transfers of community vessels to those same regions.  He highlighted that "for the implementation of both actions, the Community is committed to ensure that assistance will be provided exclusively on the basis of demands of national administrations.  Furthermore, the Community counts on FAO's help to ensure that these actions are implemented in a manner consistent with the international rehabilitation plan." The EU is committed to cooperate intensively with FAO and the countries affected so that "soon, the fishermen and the families in South East Asia may regain the means to make a safe and sustainable living from the ocean".

Ministers also adopted a declaration on fisheries calling for the development and implementation of national and regional plans of action to combat IUU fishing. The declaration establishes the need to further look into the causes and economic drivers of IUU fishing as well as the need for increased monitoring tools and capacities.

Commissioner Joe Borg underlined the EU's leading role in the fight against illegal fishing and welcomed the introduction of VMS data sharing. "The Community has consistently drawn attention to fellow members on the need to proactively cooperate at the level of control authorities to ensure that these verifications become a normal part of the trade monitoring schemes to the fullest of their potential," he said.

He explained that another priority of the community was the full participation of developing states in combating IUU fishing and that the efficiency of the frameworks provided to assist those same countries in fighting illegal fishing should be promoted.

This page was last modified on : 12-03-2005

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