Brussels, 05 Nov 2004
Representatives from nine European countries and the European Commission gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 November for the inaugural meeting of the new North Sea Regional Advisory Council (NSRAC).
The first of seven stakeholder-led advisory bodies to be created, the NSRAC brings together scientists, fishermen and environmental and consumer groups with the aim of giving all stakeholders a say in the way fisheries are managed in the North Sea. The NSRAC will also give advice directly to the European Commission and the Member States.
'These innovative bodies will provide a permanent framework linking stakeholders at the regional and local level and the Commission and the Member States concerned,' said the European Commission. 'They will enable the fishing sector to work more closely with scientists in collating reliable data and discussing ways of improving scientific advice.'
A network of seven regional advisory councils (RACs) for all fishing areas (the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean, North-western waters, South-western waters), as well as a Council for pelagic stocks (blue whiting, mackerel, horse mackerel and herring) in all areas (as well as one for distant water fisheries) will soon be in place. The network will be controlled by the European Parliament as part of a series of major reforms of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.
The RACs will be able to submit recommendations and suggestions to the Commission and the relevant national authorities on any aspect of fisheries in the area they cover, either at their own initiative or in response to a request from these bodies, explained the Commission.
Welcoming the event, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, stated: 'the Commission will work constructively with all the RACs towards our common aim: achieving environmental, economic and social sustainability in our fisheries.'
The nine countries involved in the NSRAC are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.