Dutch super trawler operating off the coast of Africa. (Photo Credit: Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace)
Ministers agree on staggered discard ban
Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
The Fisheries Council adopted a second general approach on the proposal for a regulation on the common fisheries policy (CFP) replacing the basic provisions of the CFP as part of the CFP reform "package."
This political agreement on the CFP basic provisions follows up on the first general approach agreed by the Council in June 2012. It specifies the Council position on the implementation of the discards ban and the possibility of by-catch quotas.
Dates for implementing the discard ban have been set:
- From 1 January 2014 for pelagic fish;
- From 1 January 2015 for species defining the fisheries in the Baltic (and until 2018 for other species);
- From 1 January 2016 for species defining the fisheries in the North Sea, the North Western waters and the South Western waters (and until 2019 for other species);
- From 1 January 2017 for species defining the fisheries in the Mediterranean, in the Black Sea and in all EU waters and non-EU waters (and until 2019 for other species).
In addition, management tools have been introduced to help the fishing industry to adapt to the obligation to land all catches. The level proposed for de minimis exemptions through management plans should reach 7 per cent in the final phase with a degressive rate (9 per cent the first two years; 8 per cent the two following years). These exemptions apply under strict conditions, in particular that all such catches should be fully recorded.
Finally, a possibility has been introduced for using catches of at least the minimum conservation size landed in the framework of the discard ban for charitable purposes.
In addition, elements on definitions and on responsibilities for implementing environmental obligations that impact on fishing activities definitions have been also specified.
The proposal's general objective is to ensure fisheries and aquaculture activities that provide long-term sustainable environmental, economic and social conditions, and contribute to the availability of food supplies. New elements concern in particular:
- A landing obligation;
- Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) as a compulsory reference for fisheries management;
- Regionalised decision-making;
- Individually transferable fishing quotas;
- EU measures accompanying member state obligations under environmental legislation.
The European Parliament voted on its position at first reading for this proposal on 6 February 2013. Now, on the basis of the general approach reached in the Council, the discussions between the Parliament and the Council will begin soon.