Fisheries Ministers held a fruitful meeting on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy and on the phasing out of discards
Ministers for Fisheries meeting today in Council in Brussels have extended their support to the Commission's plans for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Joe Borg, Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime affairs, welcomed the frank and open discussion held in the Council today which demonstrated the support of the Council to take courageous steps to have a real and meaningful reform of the CFP. In addition the Commissioner also welcomed the opportunity to discuss with Fisheries Ministers a new approach to the phasing out of discards.
The Council had a thorough and honest exchange of views on the Commission's Green Paper on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Ministers clearly accepted to further stimulate the debate with direct and indirect stakeholders in their country as well as with the public in general. There is a clear commitment to approach reform with an open mind and to examine all aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Green paper launches a period of consultation on CFP reform which lasts until 31 December 2009, which is open to each and every EU citizen and which covers every aspect of the current policy. The Commission is looking forward to receiving, what promises to be, a vast array of views on the reform.
Commissioner Borg also presented to the Council a new approach to the phasing out of discards. The practice of discarding marine organisms, including marketable fish, is one of the biggest problems facing European fisheries. This practice is unacceptable and there is an undisputed need to eradicate it. Since 2007 the Commission has taken measures to reduce discards however much more needs to be done. The different elements to resolve this problem require a step by step approach. It will focus in the short term on the most pressing issues and address regulated and other major commercial species. Several measures can be taken in the short term such as banning highgrading, licensing vessels according to likely catches, improving the selectivity of fishing gear, using new instruments such as real-time closures, carrying out pilot projects and reducing the overall fishing effort can be applied today, under the current CFP rules. The Commissioner presented these mix of measures to the Council of Ministers which will be reflected in upcoming proposals of the Commission starting already in 2009. Such measures will in the very short term significantly help reduce the negative impact of discarding. Additional far-reaching measures to eliminate discards are currently under preparation and will be proposed in the next fishing year 2010.