Croatia steers Presidency of the EU Council despite coronavirus
This article featured in EM 3 2020.
Holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union is a challenging task at the best of times. Despite being a small country, holding the Presidency for the first time, and facing a Europe-wide health and economic crisis, Croatia intends to make progress on key fisheries and aquaculture issues on its agenda, says Ante Misura, Assistant Minister with responsibility for fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Since the 1st of January, Croatia has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. What are the main priorities for the fisheries sector on the agenda during the 6-month presidency, and are they going to be achieved, given the current Covid-19 crisis?
This is our first Presidency since becoming an EU Member State. It came at a time of many changes, with the new Commission and Parliament on board, and with the UK leaving the EU family. The Presidency often faces unplanned situations, but the Covid-19 crisis is without precedent in recent history. From a practical point of view, meetings at the Council could no longer take place as planned, and it has therefore been difficult to make progress within our 6-month term. In light of the crisis, our priority was to find a way to help the fishery and aquaculture sector to better cope with the consequences of the pandemic. In close cooperation with the Commission and the Parliament, we managed to adopt urgent new measures that will support fishermen, aquaculture farmers and processors. However, our main priorities have remained the same, and are related to two important subjects. First are the negotiations on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the 2021-2027 programming period. We aim to achieve as much progress as possible in inter-institutional negotiations, and have found a way to continue working with the Commission and the Parliament in these challenging times. Our second priority is to make significant progress on the new fisheries control regulation, and we believe we will achieve it by the end of our Presidency. Our goal is to reach a Partial General Approach in June, as planned.
Cromaris, the largest Croatian producer of seabass and seabream has completely renovated its hatchery to double the production of fry of these two species.
Mislov, a family-owned pelagic fishery, expanded its operations in 2015 beyond catching fish when it opened a new processing plant in Policnik, Croatia. The company has been in business since it was founded in 2001 in Kali, on Island Ugljan. It is run by the Mislov family, who have extensive experience in fishing tuna and small pelagic species. The fishery’s main activity is catching anchovy and sardines. With the addition of the factory, it is now involved in processing and wholesale as well, and plans for further expansion of available products are being discussed for the near future.
Small pelagics are an important component of the Croatian fishery and processing sector. Sardines and anchovies are the main small pelagic species that are caught and processed into a variety of products intended for the domestic market as well as for export.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supports community-led local development, a concept that takes into account the needs of different sectors within an area. This has contributed to the development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in rural and other areas.
Croatia has been favoured with a long and attractive coastline made even longer by the over 1,200 Croatian islands that dot the sea just across from the mainland. Pleasant weather and attractive beaches make coastal Croatia a highly sought after destination for tourists in the summer months. Another big draw is the excellent fresh fish and seafood from the neighbouring Adriatic Sea.