Fishing in Montenegro – not ready for the European Union

Fishing in Montenegro – not ready for the European Union

 

By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica

For most of the Mediterranean countries, which were in the process of negotiations with the European Union, or have had to adapt to the new standards, the fishery issue remained one of the most complicated areas of the negotiations. States did not want to accept the quota limit for harvesting fish. The limits to which the fishermen of one country may fish were also problematic. Montenegro will soon itself face this issue in a negotiated Chapter 13 – Fishery. Unfortunately, fishing in Montenegro is almost non-existent. Although Montenegro is an extremely tourist country, which is in need of fresh sea fish, the industry is at a very low level. In Montenegro, the fishery sector occupies only 0.5 of the GDP. According to official data only 400 people are engaged in this business.

Fishery is related to the negotiation of chapter 13, with this being one of the common policy of the EU, because fish do not recognize borders. In order to open this chapter, the Montenegrin government must first make a strategy and an action plan that should explain how it intends to align these issues with EU law.

Experts in the field of fishery warn that prior to the opening of the negotiations the government should help Montenegrin fishermen. The small and underdeveloped Montenegrin fishing fleet should be strengthened as soon as possible, because after joining the EU it will not be possible, due to the policy of preserving fish resources. The practice is to reduce rather than expand the fleet, due to the storage of fishery resources in the Mediterranean. That’s why new members are automatically limited to the number of vessels that possessed at the time of entry in the Union, without any possibility of future expansion of the fleet.

In the public debate, which is dedicated to the field of fishery, were concluded main problems of Montenegro in this sector. The chief negotiator of Montenegro to the European Union Aleksandar Andrija Pejovic said that: “illegal fishing, lack of processing capacity and weak inspection are the key problems with which the Montenegrin fishermen are faced. Montenegro underutilized its territorial waters as a resource in the field of fisheries and it is at the bottom of the list of European countries when it comes to the consumption of fish, which is three to five pounds per year. In 2012 fishermen caught only 623 tons of fish. By comparison, in Slovenia, with such a small coast they caught 270 tons, in Albania 1.1 thousand tons, Croatia 70 tons, Greece 95 tons and in Italy 290 tons”, Pejovic said.

The Head of the working group on Chapter 13, Aleksandar Joksimovic, considered the outdated and small fishing fleet to be a serious problem in Montenegro, which cannot compete with other European countries in the fisheries sector. It is proposed that the first step should be for the state to give various incentives that could help the fishery sector. In that regard, future strategies in the field of fisheries should be directed towards sustainable fishing as well as an increase of consumption of fish.