#FISH – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, in advance of discussions at the EU Fisheries Council, tabled an approach to end the current practice of discarding of fish at sea. Minister Coveney met fishing industry representatives today and discussed these proposals in advance of the EU Fisheries Council which takes place tomorrow Tuesday 12th June in Luxembourg.
The Fisheries Council will focus on ironing out outstanding political issues in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform package with the aim of achieving a General Council Approach in advance of future talks with the European Parliament. The Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is expected to be concluded during the Irish Presidency in the first 6 months of 2013. A key element of the reform is addressing the complex problem of fish discards.
The Minister explained that "while there is general political agreement at the Fisheries Council on the overall objective of gradually eliminating discards, the issue that must be solved is how do we practically achieve a new policy that involves arrangements that are practical from a fisherman's perspective". In order to find solutions, the Minister has tabled a new approach which takes into account the real practical difficulties for fishermen of changing practices, the economic impacts and other constraints which impact fishermen in mixed fisheries. The proposal involves delivering a progressive and phased approach to the obligation to land all catches of quota stocks in a mixed fishery context.
Minister Coveney explained "the approach I favour is focused on incentivising changes in fishing behaviour, reducing catches of juvenile fish and allowing fish stocks to grow over a set period. I believe that this approach stands the best chance of getting buy-in from fishermen and in this way effectively delivering more environmentally friendly fishing practices and sustainable fisheries".
On the overall prospects for tomorrow's meeting the Minister said "I am genuinely hopeful that we can reach a consensus at this Council and send out a strong political signal on the Council's vision for a new CFP in advance of the inter-institutional consultations which will follow over the coming months."