European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki held meetings with representatives of Greek fish-farming associations and Greek open-sea fishing enterprises on Monday, at the offices of the European Commission Representation in Greece.
Her talks with fish farmers focused on competitiveness in the sector, which is the country's strongest exporters after the pharmaceuticals industry. Fish farmers' associations apparently pointed to delays in absorbing EU funds for fisheries that could be used for investment in the sector.
Damanaki said the Commission had been making great efforts to active the mechanism for Greece and promised to closely monitor the reaction of Greek authorities and exert pressure to speed up the necessary processes to release the funds.
Her meeting with representatives of the national fishing confederation and the Epirus federation of fishing associations focused mainly on environmental degradation in Amvrakikos Bay, which is threatened with an ecological disaster due to byproducts from industrial activity, agricultural run-off, sewage and fish farming. These are creating conditions of oxygen starvation and eutrophication that threaten to wipe out fish stocks.
Damanaki briefed associations on the possibility of funding actions to reduce the environmental pressures on the bay's ecosystems and stressed the need to conform with EU fishing rules concerning the use of destructive bottom trawlers and other restricted fishing methods.