Improve the image of the EU shipping sector
Brussels, Belgium – Reversing the decline in the number of EU seafarers and young people starting a maritime career, promoting an adequate career path and improving social conditions for sailors and fishermen are essential for the future of our maritime policy, MEPs and experts agreed at a public hearing on 2007-03-20.
The joint hearing, by five parliamentary committees, was on the Commission’s Green Paper "Towards a future maritime policy in the EU". In developing such a policy, the image of the shipping sector should be improved, European Transport Workers’ Federation representative Philippe Alfonso told MEPs. "We should put an end to discriminatory treatment of EU seafarers paid on home/residence conditions and they should no longer be excluded from social legislation applying to other sectors", he said. EP rapporteur Willy Piecyk (PES, DE), suggested that all schools in the EU should have maritime education on their programmes.
Speaking for the Social Dialogue Committee for Maritime Fisheries, Peter Mortensen said that the Green Paper was more concerned with fish than with fishermen. Work pressure was high, wages low and fair competition often jeopardised by pirate fishing by non-EU fishermen, he said. Mr Mortensen asked MEPs amending the Commission’s Green Paper proposals to consider the concerns of those working in the sector.
Simon Cripps, of the World Wildlife Fund, said that commercial fisheries had put the whole ecosystem at risk. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing was a significant threat to maritime biodiversity. Frederico Cardicos, representing the Regional Government of the Azores, said that the sensitive deep sea areas in his region would come under stress from future activities such as mining activities and CO2 sinking. But Bertie Armstrong, representing Scottish fishermen, claimed that the industry had taken responsibility for harvesting renewable food from our seas sustainably and that the whitefish fleet, for instance, had been reduced by 65% in the past five years. Non-EU industrial fisheries could now take over, with fish caught by people over whom there was no control and shipped to the EU in refrigerated transport over thousands of miles, he said.
Eduardo Gamero Mir, from the Balearic Islands’ tourism co-ordination body, highlighted the problem of mass tourism in his region and explained that measures had been taken to promote out-of-season tourism. But EU support was needed to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants landing on the islands’ coasts, he said.
Finally, Alfons Guinier, of the European shipowners’ association ECSA, told MEPs that it was against too much EU legislation on maritime policy where international agreements such as International Maritme Organisation conventions already existed. He also opposed the idea of an European Coast Guard, arguing that most of the activities against illegal immigration or drugs were within the Member States’ sphere of competence.
The Commission will table a Communication in September 2007 and the EU’s Portuguese Presidency representative announced that, by the end of the year, conclusions would be drawn on concrete measures. Parliament is to take its plenary vote on Mr Piecyk’s report in June 2007.
Committee on Transport and Tourism
In the chair : Willi Piecyk (PES, DE)
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
Committee on Fisheries
Committee on Regional Development