EP calls for more to be done to improve scientific advice in fisheries

February 13, 2004

Brussels, 12 Feb 2004

In response to a communication from the European Commission, the European Parliament adopted a report on 10 February on improving scientific and technical advice for Community fisheries management.

The report calls for more high-quality scientific advice; increased co-operation between scientists and fishermen; greater use of the precautionary principle; the provision of better and more reliable information, available to the Community, the Member States and the fishermen; an increased budget for fisheries; and greater resources devoted to researching aquaculture.

The report states that 'the common fisheries policy is one of the Community policies most dependent on scientific research, and the credibility of the measures taken depends on high-quality scientific advice.' At the moment, however, the EU's needs for scientific advice in this field are not adequately met. Furthermore, there is a serious lack of reliable information, which affects interpretation of data, estimates, assessments and diagnoses.

The report, presented by Portuguese MEP Carlos Lage from the Committee on Fisheries, supports the move towards integrated advice to provide a foundation for an ecosystem-based management. According to the rapporteur, it is urgent to 'strengthen the relationship between science and industry by improving consultation between scientists and the fishing industry, integrating them in a joint body at European, national and regional level'.

Mr Lage recommended that to achieve this aim, scientists should become members of Regional Advisory Councils. Scientists should also be encouraged to use fishing vessels to conduct research where fishing occurs. This would reduce differences of opinion between scientists and fishermen, and the latter would therefore be more supportive of measures taken on the basis of scientific advice. It is suggested that the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) be strengthened and that further budgetary resources be allocated to scientists and fisheries managers. Furthermore, it was suggested that the European Commission should recruit more staff and experts.

The report goes on to urge the EU to follow a precautionary approach to fisheries management. This would not only reduce the need for scientific advice, but also avoid the depletion of fish stocks that are extremely harmful to the environment and cause much socio-economic hardship to coastal communities.

Mr Lage emphasised the need to devote greater resources to researching aquaculture. An advisory committee with special responsibility for aquaculture that would research production, economic data and environmental data should be established, he argued.

The report concludes by reminding the European Commission that 'questions of biological risk and sustainability, and questions of the socio-economic impact of stock management or recovery measures are now the most important considerations in fisheries management. EU measures based on scientific advice can have severe socio-economic impacts on fishing communities and it is therefore vital to improve the quality both of scientific advice and of socio-economic impact assessments.' To read the full report, please http://wwwdb.europarl.eu.int/oeil/oeil_V iewDNL.ProcViewCTX?lang=2&procid=710 9&HighlighType=1&Highlight_Text=s cientific{_SPACE_}and{_SPACE_}technical{_S PACE_}advice{_SPACE_}for{_SPACE_}Community{ _SPACE_}fisheries{_SPACE_}management (click here)

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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