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Landmark agreement on Common Fisheries Policy reform

(30/05/2013) The European Commission has welcomed the landmark agreement between the Council of Ministers and European Parliament on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The agreement follows a series of talks between the Irish Presidency, led by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, and the European Parliament through rapporteur Ulrike Rodust, with the Commission acting as facilitator throughout the discussions. The last remaining issues to be solved related to the four key issues of the Maximum Sustainable Yield objective, the discard ban, regionalisation and fleet capacity management.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs praised the wide ranging changes to as well as the approach taken towards reaching an agreement: "This is a historical step for all those involved in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. We are going to change radically the way we fish in the future. I am very grateful to both Mrs Rodust and Minister Coveney for their commitment and relentless efforts towards this deal. I also want to thank the Council of Ministers and European Parliament for their open and balanced approach throughout the negotiation process."

The overarching aim of the reformed policy is to end overfishing and make fishing sustainable environmentally, economically and socially. The reforms aim to support sustainable sectoral growth, create job opportunities in coastal areas and ultimately provide EU citizens with a healthy and sustainable supply of fish.

The main elements of the new policy include:

  • Bringing fish stocks above sustainable levels by banning discarding – the practice of throwing unwanted fish back into the sea - , better management of fishing fleet capacity as well as the setting of fishing opportunities based on scientific advice.
  • International Responsibility – The EU will adopt the same principles of sustainability and conservation of fish stocks and marine biodiversity internationally. The EU will work with its partners abroad to combat illegal fishing and reduce overcapacity.
  • Support for small scale fisheries. The reformed CFP extends to 2022 the right for Member States to restrict fishing in a zone within 12 nautical miles of the coastline.
  • Decentralised Governance - The reforms place a greater emphasis on decentralising decision making and the EU will work closely together with regional authorities & stakeholders to ensure a robust governance approach.


Next Steps

With the new policy now agreed at political level, finalisation and formal adoption will follow in the next months. This will involve validation by the Council followed by a 2nd reading in the European Parliament.

Once this process is complete, the new policy will enter into force by 1 January 2014 with a progressive implementation of the new rules.