Protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems in the EU: how to improve EU policy-making?

EU Parliament Brussels | Altiero Spinelli 1E2

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Vulnerable marine systems landscape

Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) are groups of species, communities or habitats that may be vulnerable to impacts from human activities, including fishing. Since 2006, the international community has undertaken substantial initiatives to safeguard VMEs, notably seamounts and corals, recognizing their importance and value. Demonstrating a commitment to conservation, the European Union (EU) has implemented stringent fisheries management tools.

Considering the growing fishery area-closures experienced across EU seas and the resulting spatial constraints on fishing grounds, it is imperative to shape decision-making rooted in the best available science. This also necessitates comprehensive socio-economic analysis and active engagement with the sector.

The aim of the event is to discuss challenges and opportunities in the VME setting process and to showcase the difficulties faced by certain vessels affected by newly established VMEs. The seminar would seek to identify where the science and the scientific process can be improved, including fundamental socio-economic considerations, and streamline stakeholder engagement.

With this seminar, Renew Europe seeks to identify challenges but also discuss ways forward to allow sustainable fishing and seafood production while minimizing impacts on marine ecosystems.

The seminar would include participants from the industry, the Commission, ICES, STECF and NGOs to give their perspectives followed by a panel discussion.

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Draft programme

15:00-15:05 Welcome & Introduction

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Renew MEP, Renew Europe PECH Coordinator

15:05-15:50 Panel discussion

Moderated by Pierre Karleskind, Chair PECH committee, Renew Europe MEP

Scientific Panel

  • Mr José Manuel González Irusta, IEO
  • Francois Bastardie, DTU Aqua

“Examine the socioeconomic effects of safeguarding Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) in the EU alongside enhancing scientific processes and stakeholder involvement”

  • Prof. Gonzalo Rodríguez, Coordinator of the fishing economics and natural resources research group at the University of Santiago de Compostela
  • Dr Françoise Gaill, oceanographer, biologist, specialist in deep-sea ecosystems and initiator of the IPOS (International Panel for Ocean Sustainability)

Stakeholder Panel

  • Mr Matthew Gianni, Co-founder, political and policy advisor, Save the high seas
  • Mr Iván López van der Veen, President of EBFA

15:50-16:00 Moderate Discussion

Reaction from European Commission, Fabrizio Donatella, DG MARE Director

16:00-16:25 Q&A discussion with participants

16:25-16:30 Closing remarks

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