Parliament rejects proposal on fisheries management in the Southern Indian Ocean

Parliament rejects proposal on fisheries management in the Southern Indian Ocean

EP Plenary session — Management, conservation and control measures in the area covered under the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)

The European Parliament rejected a Commission proposal on fisheries management, conservation and control measures relating to the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement.

With 585 votes against, 48 in favour and 6 abstentions, the Parliament rejected on Tuesday a legislative proposal from the European Commission to transpose into EU law the recommendations adopted in 2016 under the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA).

Parliament’s rapporteur João Pimenta Lopes (Left, PT) said: “the Commission proposal goes beyond several requirements of the SIOFA conservation measures. In addition, the Commission insists on using the so-called ‘dynamic references’ for the transposition, calling into question operators and not allowing them to have access to documents in their native languages, as defined in the Treaties and reiterated by the Court of Justice of the EU. These kind of references were always rejected by the European Parliament”.

MEPs consider that dynamic references link new obligations, such as updating forms needed to operate at sea, to the online SIOFA archives. MEPs underline that these new SIOFA-linked obligations do not have any legal value because they have not been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

“We also regret that the Commission only decided to find a solution to this and future transpositions when Parliament was on the verge of rejecting the proposal. The solution is shady, unclear and does not have a clear budgetary and legal framework. I suggested that the proposal be withdrawn in plenty of time, in order to suspend the process,” added João Pimenta Lopes.

“We invite the Council to do the same, so that the European Commission presents a new proposal, which focuses on SIOFA’s recommendations and does not include the dynamic references. Then, Parliament would be able to take a position on the new proposal. I can guarantee you that this Parliament will remain committed to finding a solution, which respects the principle of multilingualism and the right of operators to know their obligations in their native languages”, he concluded.

The SIOFA is the regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO) responsible for managing fishery resources in the Southern Indian Ocean Agreement area.

The EU has been a contracting party to the SIOFA since 2008 and, consequently, conservation and management measures adopted by the regional organisation are binding on the EU if participating countries do not object. Currently, there is only one EU vessel operating under the SIOFA agreement.

In a previous vote, the Fisheries Committee also rejected the proposal, in particular the reference to the use of the dynamic references by 24 votes to three and no abstentions.

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