October 1, 2014

Karmenu Vella Hearing: Stronger Grasp on Fisheries but still Vague and Evasive

European Parliament (Flickr)

On the 29th September Karmenu Vella, commissioner designate for the environment, fisheries, and maritime policy faced a three hour grilling session by MEPs as part of his confirmation hearing.

The way Mr Vella dealt with a number of questions was far from convincing. However, he did appear to have more grasp and vision when the topic of discussion was fisheries. It was encouraging to hear Mr Vella express his support for small scale fishing operations and how he believed the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) should pay more attention to this sector. Mr Vella also reiterated that fishing at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is the fulcrum of the new Common Fisheries Policy reform. This means that the new policy shall aim to fish at levels which ensures the sustainability of fish stocks. Other issues Mr Vella showed promise on were the importance of shark conservation, on taking decisions based on scientific advice and research, and how he believes that illegal fishing needs to be tackled with the utmost urgency.

Mr Vella was still vague on most issues and failed to provide concrete answers on a number of questions. In other instances he appeared to evade questions altogether such as when Mr Vella was asked about how he plans to deal with Europe’s heavy reliance on imported fish, what his plans are for aquaculture, and how he aims to tackle the issue of how industrial fishing is damaging the fishing industry in areas like the Baltic region.