Estonian parlt committee discusses energy transition in EU fisheries, aquaculture sector

  • 2023-07-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The European Union affairs committee of the Riigikogu on Friday made additions to the government's positions for the debate on the energy transition of the European Union's fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Specifically, the EU wants to make fishing and fishing fleets more energy efficient and, as in order to achieve that goal, is seeking to reduce the carbon emissions of fishing vessels.

The committee upheld the Estonian stance for the next meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers, presented by Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas, that fishing fleets generally need to be upgraded to meet climate goals, and for this it is necessary to change the current procedure for financing the Fisheries Fund. In addition, in Estonia's opinion, additional money from the European Union is also needed, the press service of the Riigikogu said.   

The energy transition will require a change to the limits on fishing vessels' maximum engine power, as new alternative fuels and solutions do not fit within the existing limits. In practice, this means that, due to the application of new energy solutions, vessels with lower carbon dioxide emissions have to be built larger and more powerful, just as electric cars are heavier because of their batteries and therefore need a larger engine.

The Riigikogu standing committee supplemented the Estonian positions on two items. Liisa-Ly Pakosta, the chairman of the committee, said that limiting fishing with quotas, in addition to the protection of fish stocks, actually helps achieve the objective of lower pollution discharges from the fishing fleet, and therefore the matter should be resolved more sensibly.

In countries where fishing quotas are already in place, the replacement of engines and therefore vessels should no longer be forced upon the sector, Pakosta said. She said that when there is a limit to fishing volumes, the engine does not give an advantage -- for example, if the allowed amount of catch is 1,000 tons, engine power is no longer crucial for achieving environmental goals.

The committee made an addition to the Estonian positions saying that Estonia encourages other countries, where possible, to switch to fishing quotas, because then the issue of engine power limitation could be taken off the agenda in the European Union.

Secondly, the committee made an adjustment to Estonia's positions on the topic of greater participation of women in the fisheries sector. The vice chair of the committee, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski, said that while it is true that there are too few women in the fisheries sector, and it is recommended that the proportion of women be increased, building additional cabins on ships for women is not necessary. Rather, one should learn from the practices of the military conscript service in Estonia, where women and men participate equally and solutions when it comes to everyday life are organized sensibly and in a well-functioning way. 

Estonia is of the opinion that technical limitations of fishing vessels do not prevent the participation of women, and there is no need to build extensions to vessels for women.