Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri attended the Agriculture and Fisheries (AGRIFISH) Council meeting in Luxembourg where together with EU ministers he discussed, amongst other topics, fishing in the Baltic Sea, the annual meeting of the ICCAT (International Commission for-the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) regulating tuna and swordfish, and the latest developments in the agricultural market.
During these discussions, Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri mentioned the positive results that emerged last week during the meeting of the SCRS (Standing Committee on Research and Statistics) regarding tuna in the Mediterranean. This recent study gave a clear indication that the stock of blue-fin tuna has recovered from the bad state it was previously in, and it is now time to reap the fruits of the success achieved by the Recovery Plan. The Parliamentary Secretary stated that this new study will undoubtedly trigger extensive discussions on this species and the overall Recovery Plan.
Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri said that we must not forget that the positive success of this stock is a result of the sacrifices made by small-scale artisanal fishermen, a sector that despite having minimal impact on this resource, has significant socio-economic effects on small communities that depend on fishing. He said that now is therefore the time to reward the efforts made by small-scale and artisanal fishers by moving onto a tuna management plan. The Parliamentary Secretary explained that he expects this plan to bring about simplification measures as well as to potentially increase the quota allocation.
He also referred to the ICCAT, which is an annual appointment of utmost importance that will take place from the 14th to the 22nd of November of this year in Marrakech, Morocco. He explained that the Maltese Government also recognises the difficulties that the European Union will encounter during the discussions at the ICCAT meeting, and took the opportunity to thank European Commissioner Karmenu Vella and his team for all their work and efforts in preparation for this very important meeting.
In his speech, the Parliamentary Secretary also recognised the valuable work being undertaken by the Commission in monitoring European Union agricultural markets. He said that this would help European farmers be informed of the latest developments in order to have enough information so that they can plan ahead for the future. Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri stressed the importance of providing assistance to the agricultural sector in difficult situations. He elaborated on the Maltese Government’s continuous support for initiatives to help farmers manage various factors outside of their control such as Russian sanctions, the negative repercussions of animal diseases, and particularly, the negative repercussions of unstable weather. The Parliamentary Secretary believes that we should offer a safe and positive environment for farmers to continue developing and enlarging the agricultural sector.
In this regard, the Maltese government has always put farmers at the centre of any decision, particularly because the factors previously mentioned can potentially worsen farmers’ situation should they be required to cover for additional unforeseen circumstances. Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri concluded that he supports the Commission in its initiatives to find third markets where oversupplies can be sold at higher prices.