On 6 February, the Institute for European Environmental Policy and the UK Statutory Nature Conservation Agencies organised a workshop to discuss the Commission’s proposed Decision on Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) (COM(2003)607), with a particular emphasis on the extent to which RACs can deliver an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. RACs are being established within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as fora to engage stakeholders in the development of EU fisheries management measures. RACs may also become involved in consultations regarding national fisheries management measures, affecting the 12 nm zone.
The 6 February meeting was to update delegates on the state of negotiations regarding the RAC proposal and to identify priorities and opportunities to ensure RACs successfully deliver ecosystem-based management. The meeting was targeted primarily at environment and nature conservation interests, thereby allowing an open discussion of a range of issues, including the aims and objectives of RACs, their composition, and the role of environmental interests on these RACs. The Irish Presidency during the first half of 2004 has identified the RAC proposal as a priority for the Fisheries Council. The Parliament is also considering the proposal, and is expected to adopt its report during the spring. This is consequently a timely opportunity both to review the state of negotiations and to identify ways of ensuring that RACs become effective fora for engaging stakeholders in the management of European fisheries.