The Minister for Marine, Simon Coveney TD, at 6.15 a.m. this morning, after some 36 hours of negotiations, secured a new mandate from EU Fisheries Ministers to enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
The new position drafted by the Council of Ministers is based on a revised 200 page compromise legal text which Minister Coveney presented to Fisheries Ministers on early Wednesday morning.
Minister Coveney welcomed the support he received at the Fisheries Council saying:
"This agreement follows very difficult and complex negotiations, it amounts to a significant compromise on behalf of my fellow Fisheries Ministers to allow further negotiations with the European Parliament take place to finalise the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the coming weeks."
The Minister went on to say:
"This decision by the Council is a major conciliatory step in the direction of the European Parliament and hopefully paves the way for successful conclusion of the inter-institutional negotiations on the reform. It is evidence of the importance placed by Fisheries Ministers on making this radical package of measures"
The Irish Presidency has prioritised securing CFP reform before the end of its term and three-way talks between the Council, European Parliament and Commission will now continue with the aim of achieving that goal on the basis of this new position drafted by the Council of Ministers.
Minister Coveney continued:
"The Council has recognised the practical challenges of fishermen and the potential socio-economic impacts in coastal communities during the negotiations over the past number of months. I believe that the historical package agreed this morning will prepare the way for a European wide discards ban, facilitate more sustainable fishing levels in addition to appropriate management of fleet capacity and a workable regionalisation policy. It will provide the framework for the long term sustainability of the fish stocks around our shores and the continued economic viability of our fishing fleet and the processors and communities that depend on them".
The package agreed this morning will allow us to rebuild the fish stocks in European waters and will allow for significant quota increases for our fishermen as we phase out the wasteful practice of discarding fish and see the benefits of this change in rebuilding our fish stocks and ensuring a better, and more secure future, for our fishermen and coastal communities.
The Minister will this morning present the new compromise to the leaders of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament and explain the thinking behind it.
The Minister concluded saying:
"We are under no illusions as to the challenges facing us with the European Parliament, however the strong compromise mandate given to me today places added responsibility on our co-legislators in the European Parliament to show reciprocal flexibility to facilitate the successful conclusion on the Common Fisheries Policy, which is the objective of both institutions."