The Slovak Presidency has been particularly busy and successful in the field of fisheries. Around 90 items covered over 17 Fisheries Working Party meetings, detailed discussions at COREPER level, intense work with the European Parliament and very successful AGRIFISH Council proceedings.
Gabriela Matečná, Minister for agriculture and rural development of Slovakia and President of the Council stated that ‘it is a great personal satisfaction that the Slovak Presidency has been able to keep its promise to work as an honest broker in the best possible manner, towards attaining healthy fish stocks and to support a thriving EU sector.’
Within the fisheries dimension, the hallmark of the Slovak Presidency is the adoption with unanimity of all Fishing Opportunity Regulations. To put this achievement into perspective it is sufficient to say that unanimity for the Deep Sea file was last reached in 2010. All these elaborate negotiations entailed very difficult and time consuming preparations and it is fundamental to outline that this work will bring 44 stocks to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels (compared to 36 in 2016). The Baltic fishing opportunities were adopted at the October Council, the Deep Sea at November, and December covered the Black Sea and the main and more extensive Fishing Opportunities Regulation.
The Slovak Presidency also attained a political agreement on the Data Collection Framework (DCF) at a trilogue with the EP held on 5 December 2016. Work on this file involved meticulous and lengthy interaction with the European Parliament and this achievement is another fundamental step towards the successful implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
In October COREPER also approved two fishery EP negotiation mandates. One on the Characteristics of Fishing Vessels and the other on the transposition of measures related to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). It is also important to note that both these mandates were unanimously approved.
An extensive number of EU positions for Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and other international negotiations were also approved. The most high profile of these was the one for the ICCAT Annual Meeting that led to the adoption of a Recovery Plan for Mediterranean Swordfish.