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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/59

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(17 October 2002)

Bluefin tuna management in the Mediterranean is entrusted to the International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean
(GFCM). The Community is a member of both organisations and implements all the management and
conservation measures they adopt.

Fattening tuna in cages is a new practice that has been growing in the Mediterranean in the last few years
and ICCAT, GFCM and the Community are well aware of this.

ICCAT and GFCM are studying the situation to work out what management measures are essential. The
Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, is taking an active part in this work. The Community
participated in the last joint GFCM/ICCAT meeting on Mediterranean stocks of large pelagic fish, which
examined the problem.

The interaction of fishing gear and transported cages is a problem that has to be dealt with at local level.
Designating specific routes for boats moving cages into inshore waters might be an effective solution.

The Commission is astonished to hear of catches of 500 tonnes a week by the Cofradía de Pescadores de
Carboneras. Such a volume takes Spanish catches well above those authorised and declared to ICCAT by
the Spanish authorities. The Commission will enquire into the accuracy of this figure.

(2003/C 110 E/062) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2487/02

by Rosa Miguélez Ramos (PSE) to the Commission

(6 September 2002)

Subject: Sand eel catch

The Commission is frequently obliged to adopt and propose measures relating to catch possibilities which
lack the necessary scientific basis. Our ignorance of the sea exceeds our knowledge of it, especially
regarding the interrelations between different maritime species. Thus, for instance, the scarcity of species
such as cod or haddock is the result not so much of overfishing as of large-scale catches by the industrial
fleet of other species, such as sand eel, which form their basic diet, for purposes of conversion into

Industry sources suggest that the reappearance of haddock in the North Sea fishing-grounds could be
caused by the increase in sand eel stocks following the ban on Danish trawlers in the Wee Bankie zone.
Nonetheless, the British fisheries research department claims that the increase in haddock stocks is a result
of past reductions in the fishing effort.

Has the Commission studied the interrelations between these two species? If so, what conclusions has it
reached? Does the Commission not consider that, quite apart from overfishing, the uncontrolled catching
of species which are not placed on the market for human consumption, such as sand eel, has the result of
puncturing the food chain and reducing the stocks of other species, such as cod and haddock, which are
thus deprived of their basic diet?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(16 October 2002)

Current scientific opinion indicates that the decrease of cod and haddock populations (and that of a
number of other species) is due to excessive fishing of these species.

However, it has been asserted or postulated by other parties (but not by science) that the decrease may be
a result of reduction of food for these species as a result of large-scale fishing of sandeels.
C 110 E/60 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.2003

The latter position is difficult to support because firstly it would be reasonable to expect a reduction in
growth rate of predators (cod, haddock etc.) and such a reduction has not been observed. Secondly,
scientific estimates from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) of the state of
sandeel stocks in the North Sea indicates that sandeel are currently not overexploited and are abundant.

The closure of sandeel fishing on the Wee Bankie was motivated not by consideration of the state of stocks
of cod or haddock but by concern about the breeding success of certain sea bird populations which
depend upon sandeels during the breeding season to feed both themselves and their young following

It is contentious and probably not justifiable to maintain that either this closure or other reduction in
fishing effort underpins the recent increase in the North Sea haddock. The numbers of young haddock
produced each year are known to be highly variable. This stock has recently increased as a result of the
arrival of a large year-class of haddock in 1999 whereas the immediate prospects for haddock appear to be
poor because the following year classes of 2000 and (probably) 2001 are scientifically estimated to be of
low or very low abundance. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that haddock appear throughout the
whole of the northern North Sea much of which is not closed to fishing for sandeels.

The Commission is, however, continuing to monitor the impact of industrial fisheries and has recently
asked ICES to study the eco-system effects of these fisheries.

(2003/C 110 E/063) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2493/02

by Mogens Camre (UEN) to the Commission

(9 September 2002)

Subject: Rising unemployment in Poland as a result of EU membership

Under the terms of the Commission’s proposal on agricultural support for the applicant countries, farmers
in those countries will initially obtain only 25 % of the support received by farmers in the present Member

According to the Danish newspaper Politiken of 13 August 2002, there will be massive unemployment in
agriculture in Poland if the country joins the EU.

Almost 8 million Poles are employed in agriculture, i.e. almost 20 % of the population, as compared with
some 4 % of the EU’s population. Gregor Kreuzhaber, spokesman for the EU Commissioner for agriculture,
has stated that the level in Poland must be reduced.

If the percentage in Poland is to be reduced to the EU level, the result will be that 6 million Polish farmers
will lose their jobs (the equivalent of approximately 15 % of the total population of Poland).

Has the Commission carried out studies to ascertain the implications for Poland of such depopulation in
the agricultural sector, including its impact on unemployment as a whole in that country, and whether
there is any prospect that these millions of people will be able to find alternative work within Poland?

Will the Commission also say what impact such an explosion in unemployment in Poland will have on
Polish migration to the present Member States of the Union?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

(6 November 2002)

It is important to place the Polish agricultural sector in the broader context of economic developments in
Poland. Current high levels of unemployment are in part due to the overall slowdown of economic
growth, but also various structural factors, which need to be addressed by the national policy. These have a
decisive impact on the labour market situation throughout Poland.