Arun Sudhaman 07 Apr 2013 // 11:00PM GMT
BRUSSELS--The European Union has called in a Spanish PR firm to oversee the sensitive €11m assignment supporting the overhaul of its controversial fisheries policy.
Following a competitive tender, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) has handed the lucrative four-year contract to PAU Education, a Spanish company that specialises in EU information campaigns.
PAU is charged with explaining the EU's new proposed common fisheries policy (CFP), which aims to cut waste and stop overfishing in European waters. The EU is aiming to raise public awareness of the new CFP's objectives and initiatives, following a high-profile campaign that revealed serious problems with the existing system of fishing quotas.
Under the current quota system, tonnes of good fish are regularly dumped at sea, leading to 75 percent of stocks being overfished and catches declining steeply over the past 20 years. Instead, fisheries ministers from the 27 EU member states are now negotiating a sweeping reform proposal to make the process more eco-friendly, by specifying a maximum sustainable yield for each species based on its reproduction rate.
The issue is a highly sensitive one, given the level of criticism the CFP has generated over the years. MEPs hope to reach a final deal by June, ahead of implementation of the new plan in 2015. A new €6.7bn six-year funding programme, called the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, begins next year.
PAU will oversee information and communication campaigns, audiovisual services, public relations and publications, along with the EU's 'Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe' magazine.
In addition, it will provide PR services to the European Fisheries Control Agency, and aim to communicate DG MARE's broader Integrated Maritime Policy, which seeks to provide a more coherent approach to maritime issues.