Major Steps Towards Fishing Reform Secured
Brussels -- Wednesday 13 June 2012
The era of centralised power over fishing from Brussels is drawing to a close. In the early hours of this morning the UK Government played a major role in reforming the broken Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Most notably the EU Council agreed to ban the discarding of dead fish. The practice, which has resulted in millions of tonnes of perfectly good fish being wasted, has sparked public outrage. I'm pleased that a significant step has been taken to end the policy.
Commitments were also made to achieve reform to curb overfishing and filter decision-making down to regional level. The details are as follows:
The EU Council agreed that there should be a ban on discards. The timeline for when this will be achieved will be subject to further detailed negotiations. Provisional dates published by the Council would see a ban on discards in the ‘Pelagic’ fisheries (such as Mackerel and Herring) by 1st January 2014 and a ban on discards in ‘Whitefish’ fisheries (Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Sole) on a phased basis starting on 1 January 2015 and fully in place by 1 January 2018.
The UK was also successful in getting the EU Council to agree to move powers away from Brussels so that Member States can work together regionally to develop management plans, and implement measures which are appropriate to their own fisheries. This ‘regionalisation’ was one of the key negotiating priorities for the Government who have campaigned against this over-centralised system.
Furthermore, overfishing has been one of the many failings of the current Common Fisheries Policy which is why the UK Government is keen for any new policy for to contain a clear legal commitment, and deadlines, to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield as soon as possible. Following negotiations the Council have agreed legally binding limits on fishing levels to ensure scientific advice is taken into account when agreeing annual quotas. This would put concrete limits in EU law that have previously been less rigid political commitments.
We have to remember what is at stake here - we must balance the health of our fish stocks and the prosperity of our fishing industry. It is fatal for both if we allow discards and irresponsible fishing to continue. I will continue to monitor the situation in the interests of my constituents.