The Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Costas Kadis, attended yesterday the virtual work of the EU Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries. The focus was on fisheries issues, and in particular the European Commission’s proposal for more sustainable EU fisheries.
During his speech, Costas Kadis referred to the worrying situation of stocks in the Mediterranean, despite the efforts and important measures taken in recent years, noting that “it is important that both us and our partners, as well as our neighbors in the Mediterranean continue the effort for the sustainable management of stocks”. He pointed out that Turkey was operating illegally in EU waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, as Turkish fishing vessels have been spotted fishing Atlantic bluefin tuna in the northeastern part of the territorial waters and within the EEZ of Cyprus, illegally and without permission from Cyprus. Turkey’s actions violate Cyprus’s sovereign rights, the principle of freedom of the high seas, including freedom of fishing, and customary international law, undermining all efforts to effectively promote equal competition.
As part of the same discussion on illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing in the Mediterranean, Costas Kadis further stated that many times in recent years, Turkish patrol boats have obstructed and prevented Cypriot-flagged boats from operating within the Cypriot maritime zones and the open sea. He also referred to more serious incidents, when Turkish occupation forces obstructed and captured Cypriot-flagged fishing boats and detained their crew. In addition, in connection with Turkey’s illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities in Cyprus’s maritime zones, the Minister stressed that in several cases the Barbaros seismic vessel, which conducted illegal seismic surveys in the southern EEZ of Cyprus, and its support vessels, obstructed Cypriot fishing boats, destroyed some of their fishing equipment and drove them out of the area, forcing them to stop their fishing activities. He stressed the need to control fishing in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is not sufficient today, noting that collective efforts are needed at EU level.
In his own statement, Greek Agriculture Minister Makis Voridis stressed the need to ensure the implementation of effective control measures in the Eastern Mediterranean. The illegal activity of Turkish fishing vessels in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, he noted, undermines the viability of fishing supplies, as they are not subject to the same strict control measures as those of European fishing fleets. He highlighted the issue as a matter of common interest, with the EU being expected to raise it at an international level, as well as at its bilateral meetings with Turkey.
In his concluding remarks, Lithuanian Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said there was a clear EU response to Turkey’s unilateral and illegal actions, which affect Cyprus’s jurisdiction. “The European Commission and the EU Member States fully support Cyprus”, he said. “The issue of illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing in Cypriot territorial waters must be addressed by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean”, he added. Regarding the use of control measures, Virginijus Sinkevičius said that alternatives were discussed in the framework of the joint development plan for the Mediterranean.
Regarding the issues of agriculture, the Ministers were informed by the outgoing Croatian Presidency about the progress made in recent months in the discussions on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). /ibna