Zaragoza, 4th February 2008 - European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg travelled to Spain, where he attended the 7th Ministerial Meeting organised by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) in Zaragoza. The meeting is being held at the invitation of Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Ms Elena Espinosa, and brought together Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries from CIHEAM member countries, including a number of EU Member States. Commissioner Borg addressed the opening session on sustainable management of fisheries resources in the Mediterranean Sea. He also held bilateral meetings with Ministers from some of the EU's partner countries in the Mediterranean basin.

The Commissioner underlined the crucial need to reinforce regional coordination in order to deliver sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean. This will mean revitalising the General Fishing Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), and supporting the move towards a fishing effort control system based on sound scientific advice. In November 2006, the EU adopted a new legal framework for fisheries in the Mediterranean, and its implementation will provide a more strategic approach by promoting long-term management plans. Mr Borg also stressed the need for cooperation beyond these frameworks, through initiatives which bring together all the Mediterranean coastal states.

Commissioner Borg presented the Commission's plans for a maritime strategy for the Mediterranean, as part of the EU's new integrated maritime policy. This strategy will focus on several areas in which cooperation between EU and non-EU states is crucial, including sustainable economic development of maritime regions, safety and surveillance cooperation, maritime governance, maritime research and cultural dialogue. Initial pilot projects on maritime surveillance and spatial planning are due to be launched this year, and a conference on integrated maritime policy and the Mediterranean involving all the Mediterranean countries will be organised jointly by the Commission and the Slovenian presidency of the EU in June 2008.

Speech by Commissioner Joe Borg

CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies)

The CIHEAM Ministerial Meetings were established in 1999, in order to create a dialogue between Mediterranean countries on agricultural and rural issues and promote a common approach to these issues. The meetings, which are now held biannually, bring together ministers from CIHEAM's 13 member countries’ with representatives of its international partner institutions, including the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Commission, Blue Plan, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD) and the World Bank.