Hudghton (Greens/EFA), rapporteur. - When the representative of the Commission first presented this report to the Committee on Fisheries, he stated that the subject was so technical (and even routine) that we may even find it boring. I disagree. Devising and implementing technical measures aimed at protecting and conserving young fish is of crucial long-term importance to the fishing industry, as well as to the aim of achieving sustainability in fisheries. If technical measures are unsuccessful, or are seen to be applied inequitably between fishing nations or types of fishery in a particular area, then the ultimate objective will not be met. The timing of this particular proposal, on the heels of the December Fisheries Council and its decisions on CFP reform and interim cod recovery measures, provides an opportunity for the Commission and the Council to regain some of the credibility which currently is severely lacking - certainly around northern fishing nations such as Scotland and Ireland. The amendments which were approved by the committee - and which I hope will be endorsed by the whole House tomorrow - include two, which simply correct inaccurate references in the Commission's text. Of the others, Amendment 2 seeks to ensure that the Council will have an input to the detailed rules in connection with the conditions under which combinations of net sizes may be carried. This is an area which the Commissioner will know has caused significant difficulty under the current regulation. It is unlikely that unilateral rewriting of such important rules by the Commission will help to restore any faith in the process. Amendment 4 addresses another - in my view - unacceptable anomaly, namely the provision which would allow those fishermen using the very smallest of mesh sizes in industrial fisheries for sandeel, for example, to retain undersized fish. The rationale that it is somehow acceptable to land undersized fish, provided it is not sold for human consumption, is totally impossible to justify to those involved in the whitefish sector who use the largest of mesh sizes, while suffering draconian cuts in their quotas and days at sea. A number of amendments which were lost in committee have been retabled by my group. I seek full support for their inclusion tomorrow. The proposed establishment of Regional Advisory Councils, which was agreed, albeit in a watered-down form, as part of the reformed CFP, provides an ideal forum in which to involve stakeholders and to harness existing expertise. Unless RACs are to be given meaningful work to do, they will quickly become regarded as pointless talking-shops. Equally, if technical measures are to be supported and implemented by fishermen, it is essential that they accept that particular measures are appropriate to the task. It seems to me that this proposal provides the ideal opportunity to achieve these two worthwhile ends - the meaningful involvement of experts through RACs, and therefore a greater likelihood that technical measures will be effective and appropriate to a particular fishing zone. Further amendments address the question of Member States' ability to take action, in relation to their own fleets, which exceeds the minimum required under EU regulation. The current version of the technical measures allows for this provision. It is mysterious, in my view, that this provision has somehow disappeared without adequate explanation from the new proposal. Surely if conservation is the objective and technical measures are utilised, it ought to be permitted for individual Member States to seek to achieve additional benefits if they deem it to be necessary This provision should also be able to be applied by Member States to their own fleets in waters other than Community waters. The challenge currently facing EU fisheries management is to somehow recover from a major crisis in confidence. Certainly in Scotland there is such a crisis, which has led my own political party, the SNP - a pro-European party - to commit itself to campaign for the scrapping of the CFP as currently formulated. This week in the Westminster Parliament, a Bill will be tabled calling for UK withdrawal from the CFP. Unless a dramatic change in attitude is forthcoming, such demonstrations of disgust with the process will continue to be expressed. I hope that the Commission can accept that there is a need for it to take the lead in changing the perceived 'we know best' attitude, which can lead to such resentment. The current proposal, not even mentioning Regional Advisory Councils once, is unacceptable. I hope that this omission can be corrected. I hope that Parliament will support all of the amendments tomorrow. I hope that the Commission too will accept that there is a need to change the way things are done, and done for the better.

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