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Official Journal of the European Communities

C 235 E/93

In particular, has a proper assessment been made of by-catches of demersal species in this area when nets smaller that 16 millimetres are used for industrial fishing?

Could the extensive catches of pelagic species in the North Sea be connected with problems in the food chain that may have been caused by the catastrophic situation affecting demersal species?

Will the Commission take measures to ensure proper control over this type of fishing in other areas where the Community fleet operates?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(2 March 2001)

The main industrial fisheries affecting demersal species in the North Sea are those for Norway pout which are conducted mainly by Denmark and Norway with nets of mesh size equal to or greater than 16 mm. In these fisheries, a by-catch predominantly of haddock and whiting is taken. This by-catch consists mainly of juveniles of the species concerned.

The other major industrial fisheries in the North Sea are targeted on sprats and sandeels. By-catches of demersal fish by these fisheries is very low.

According to a report of November 2000 of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) by-catches of whiting have varied since 1987 between 51 000 tonnes and 3 000 tonnes per year. In the period 1996 to 1999, by-catches have varied between 5 000 tonnes and 3 000 tonnes. For haddock since 1987, by-catches have varied between 11 000 tonnes and 2 000 tonnes per year.

For equity, these quantities should be compared to those of haddock and whiting discarded by those fleets using nets of 80 or 100 mm mesh size which land their fish for human consumption. Since 1987, discards of haddock has varied between 80 000 tonnes and 33 000 tonnes while discards of whiting have varied between 54 000 tonnes and 13 000 tonnes.

There is much discussion on possible effects on the food chain of removal of large quantities of Norway pout, sandeels and sprats from the North Sea and elsewhere. However, the Commission is unaware of definitive scientific results which indicate that current catch levels have created deleterious effects. The only exception to this position concerns an apparent lack of breeding success of a species of seabird off the east coast of Scotland. In response to this, fisheries for sandeels were closed in the appropriate area of the North Sea.

The Community already has in place measures to control the activities of vessels conducting industrial fisheries. These are mainly contained in (EC) No Regulation 850/98 of 30 March 1998 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms ( 1 ) and, in particular, Annexes I and II thereof.

( 1 )

OJ L 125, 27.4.1998.

(2001/C 235 E/100)


by Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(17 January 2001)

Subject: Regional fisheries organisations

The Commission is displaying an alarming lack of both human and financial resources, casting doubt on its ability to act as a negotiator in these international bodies. This has been demonstrated by two recent episodes, the first of which was the United States embargo on the Community’s Pacific fishing fleet, introduced because the Community had not transposed the ICCAT recommendations on the protection of dolphins in tuna-fishing. The reason for this failure was the delay by the Commission in submitting the measures concerned to the Council.

C 235 E/94

Official Journal of the European Communities



Will the Commission explain how this critical situation arose?

In addition, at the recent ICCAT international meeting in Marrakech, the Commission’s lack of negotiating resources in the various fora accompanying this meeting was plain to see. Parliament has repeatedly condemned this situation and called for measures to be taken by the European Union to remedy it.

What will the Commission do to resolve this situation, which is calling into question the Community’s ability to provide leadership in the regional fisheries organisations?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(6 March 2001)

It is true that the multilateral management of fisheries in the high seas implies that the Community must face a series of challenges that are ever-increasing in number and complexity. But this case is not an isolated one, and other areas of activity of the Commission also require increased attention. In this context, the Commission must face up to all these challenges with a limited number of human resources for the period 2000-2002. The Commission, within the constraints of the staff available, tries its utmost to ensure that Community representation at international meetings is adequate both in terms of the number of officials and in terms of their qualifications.

At the recent International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting, the Commission deployed a relatively large team (six officials) which was sufficient to cover the different negotiating fronts, albeit with a considerable personal effort. In other international meetings, the Commis- sion also deploys as many officials as necessary to ensure adequate coverage, within of course the general limitations on staff applicable to the whole of the Commission.

(2001/C 235 E/101)


by Cristiana Muscardini (UEN) to the Commission

(17 January 2001)

Subject: Frozen foods and competition

In Italy, certain companies which market frozen substances are required to pay substantial taxes known as ‘industrial contributions’ to the canning industry testing centre, a technical and scientific agency of the National Institute for Tinned Foods (INCA). Without wishing to enter into the controversial question of whether frozen foods should be considered as belonging to the category of tinned products, I would point out that, in other European Union Member States, companies which market similar frozen products do not pay specific contributions, other than standard tax.

1. Is the Commission aware of this situation? Can it confirm these tax disparities?

2. If so, does it not consider that the special tax imposed in Italy actually represents a distortion of

competition in relation to similar companies in other parts of the Union?

3. What measures can it take to prevent the existence of such disparate situations in the single market,

which penalise companies in one country and thereby improve the competitiveness of companies in other

EU Member States?