Damanaki calls out Mediterranean states
The European Union's new fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, is cautioning Mediterranean states to comply with a measure to protect the region's ailing fish stocks or face the consequences.
The warning came last week at a meeting of EU fisheries ministers, as Damanaki criticized the slow progress made by seven Mediterranean states — Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus and Greece — in implementing Mediterranean Regulation No. 1967/2006.
Three years after the measure was adopted, the seven Mediterranean states have failed to fulfill all of the obligations, Damanaki's spokesperson told SeafoodSource on Wednesday.
"Some of the members have partially fulfilled the obligations," he said. "The only measure that all member states complied with concern the notice of designated ports, which had to be done by April 2007."
At last week's meeting, Damanaki denied a request by Spain, Italy and Cyprus to postpone enactment of some of the measure's exigencies.
"As guardian of the treaties, the commission will have no choice but to take the necessary steps to ensure that EU legislation is complied with. I will therefore not hesitate to make full use of the instruments provided for by the treaties," warned Damanaki.
The "instruments" Damanaki cited are infringement procedures, which can be used if a member state fails to fulfill its obligations. It also means the European Commission can go all the way to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and ask for compliance.
According to Damanaki's spokesperson, it's rare that a fisheries-related case is taken to the Court of Justice.
Damanaki last week called the figures on the status of Mediterranean fish stocks "insufficient."
"This is like playing Russian roulette, they may be OK or they may on the brink of collapse," she said. "We simply don't know."
According to the EC, more than 54 percent of fish stocks analyzed by scientists are overexploited. For many stocks — including hake, red mullet, deep-water rose shrimp, nephrops and sole — scientists recommend drastic mortality reductions of between 30 and 80 percent.