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EU Council stresses the importance of small-scale coastal fishing

Brussels, 18 March 2019 – Today, the EU ministers for agriculture and fisheries held a regular meeting of the EU Council. Slovenia’s representative at the meeting was the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Ms Aleksandra Pivec. On the initiative of Slovenia, the discussion was focused on the joint declaration on small-scale coastal fishing of the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. On this occasion, the Slovenian minister stressed that segments of the fishing fleet with vessels of less than 12 metres are of key importance to the preservation of the fishing tradition and of the way of life: "These are mainly small family businesses in which knowledge and skills of traditional fishing techniques that are more environmentally friendly than modern, industrial techniques are passed from generation to generation." The ministers continued with their discussion of the legislative package for Common Agricultural Policy reform. They discussed all three legislative proposals: the proposal for a regulation establishing rules on support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States under the Common Agricultural Policy, a regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, and a regulation on the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products.

The purpose of the small-scale coastal fishing declaration is to highlight the importance of small-scale coastal fishing in European coastal communities and generally to ensure food security, employment and the sustainability of fishing. According to the Minister, the purpose of the declaration is to highlight the importance of small-scale coastal fishing in ensuring food security and employment in coastal areas and in promoting the sustainable development of fishing and of the marine environment: "Sustainable development of small-scale coastal fishing is of vital importance to the Slovenian fishing industry as more than 90% of the vessels in Slovenia’s fishing fleet are less than 12 metres in length and their fishing trips last several hours to not more than one day." According to the Minister, this segment of the fishing fleet is of key importance for the preservation of the fishing tradition and of the way of life, since it involves the participation of mainly small family businesses in which knowledge and skills of traditional fishing techniques that are more environmentally friendly than modern, industrial techniques are passed from generation to generation: "This type of fishing is closely linked to the everyday life of coastal communities and produces significant multiplicative effects on the coastal economy by marketing fisheries products, tourism opportunities and links with other sectors of the local economy." Bearing this in mind, the Minister said that Slovenia is strongly committed to supporting small-scale coastal fishing and the way of life in European coastal communities through the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (and aquaculture) 2021–2027 "in order to preserve the social fabric, the traditional and sustainable way of life, obtaining food from the sea and the traditional skills in European coastal communities."


At its session today, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council continued with the discussion of the legislative package for Common Agricultural Policy reform. The discussion focused on all three legislative proposals: the proposal for a regulation establishing rules on support for strategic plans to be drawn up by Member States under the Common Agricultural Policy, a regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, and a regulation on the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products. Minister Pivec stressed that strategic planning of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) posed a great challenge to the Member States and that it required clear, simple and timely rules: "There are still many unresolved issues in the area of monitoring the policy implementation. For this reason it is important to have clear and understandable indicators in advance, the method of measuring effectiveness, reporting and the possible financial impact resulting from deviations from the planned milestones." As regards the definition of permanent grasslands, Slovenia considers that the most appropriate definition is the one agreed upon on the occasion of amending the Direct Payments Regulation and which gives the Member States sufficient flexibility to consider specific circumstances. As regards the definition of a genuine farmer, Slovenia considers it important that the Member States can also take into account complementary farms. Slovenia could thus support the preservation of the current arrangement under which recipients of direct payments of up to EUR 5,000 automatically meet the required conditions. Minister Pivec also pointed out the CAP’s higher environmental and climatic ambitions that have Slovenia’s support: "The Member States will be able to achieve them more efficiently by implementing the ambitious measures of the second pillar; therefore, Slovenia’s view is that eco-schemes of the first pillar should be voluntary for all Member States." As regards the common organisation of markets, the Minister said that Slovenia agreed with the proposed deletion of the provisions on the common organisation of the markets (COM) in agricultural products, which could facilitate the use of other types of vines (Vitis labrusca) and its crossbreeds that are currently not allowed: "We believe that there are already a sufficient number of crossbreeds with Vitis vinifera which are sufficiently adapted to the changed climatic conditions to allow winegrowers to respond to the modified cultivation conditions; moreover, the extension of vine varieties and new crossbreeds could have negative consequences for the reputation of European wines." 


Today the EU ministers also discussed the updated strategy for a sustainable circular bioeconomy, which was adopted by the European Commission on 11 October 2018. Bioeconomy includes the production of all kinds of biomass and the conversion of these resources and waste into value-added products. Minister Pivec stressed that bioeconomy represented an opportunity for the development of industries that produce biomass for rural development as well: "We intend to dedicate more attention to these issues in the framework of the future strategic plan for CAP. In our opinion, the most effective measure for this purpose include cooperation which could attract more stakeholders to participate in finding innovative and integrated solutions. Equally important are knowledge transfer measures and training. Importance will also be given to investment in diversification. It will be essential to ensure the involvement of primary producers (farmers and forestry workers) in these new chains and the appropriate proportion of added value. Research and development and innovation in the new research framework programme (Horizon Europe), inter-ministerial cooperation and cooperation between various EU policies and funds will also be crucial for the development of this area." Bioeconomy has been gaining importance in Slovenia, including due to the co-financing support to the projects in the framework of measures of the Rural Development Programme 2014–2020. In particular, these are the cases in circular economy and the continuous flow in an agricultural holding, such as the utilisation of the corn shell which is an agricultural plant residue, the utilisation of by-products in the manufacture of sheep wool, flax and industrial hemp, investments in higher energy efficiency and more efficient use of renewable energy sources,  reconstruction of agricultural holding buildings by using materials with better insulating properties and the recycling and use of waste to generate energy from biomass. According to our experience, informing the public of the results and positive effects of bioeconomy projects is extremely important. In addition, more should be done to raise consumer awareness of the advantages of bio-based products to promote the development of the market in these products.

 

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