#FISHING - 'Fish fight' campaigners have cautiously welcomed the EU Council's agreement to end the practice of fish discards, following marathon talks in Brussels.
Provisional dates are already been drawn up to see a ban on discards of mackerel and herring within two years, with a phased ban on discards of cod, haddock, plaice and sole given till 2018 for implementation due to the difficulties in avoiding accidental catch of those species.
Ministers also suggested that different regions of the EU should have more individual control over fisheries policy, and have given themselves till 2020 to end overfishing in European waters.
But Greenpeace and other environmental groups have criticised this timeline, as well as the "vague" wording of proposed limits on fishermen.
"There is a real risk that fish and fishermen are facing another 10 years of overfishing and stock decline, with real consequences for species like cod, hake and tuna," said Greenpeace's Willie Mackenzie.
The compromise deal comes some weeks after Afloat.ie reported plans by an alliance of EU member states to prevent the discards ban.
At present, half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy. The practice was recently highlighted by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign.
The new agreement is still subject to more talks, and must also be passed by the EU Parliament and Commission.