#fisheries – This morning the Irish Presidency delivered on one of its highest priorities as it secured agreement on the EU's new Common Fisheries Policy. Minister Coveney, in welcoming the agreement stated that "At the very beginning of Ireland's Presidency I set out an ambitious and demanding work programme, as I believed it was imperative that reform of our fisheries had to happen now. Having led months of intensive negotiations, I am delighted that we have now agreed on a policy which is practical, implementable and one which places sustainability firmly at its core. It is a policy which will provide for a vital, vibrant industry and healthy fishing stock long into the future".
The main achievements under the new Common Fisheries Policy will be as follows:
With the new policy we have to set quotas that fully respect scientific advice. This will lead to healthy fish stocks and higher quotas as fish stocks are managed at maximum sustainable yield levels. From an Irish perspective the so called "Hague Preferences" have been protected which give additional quotas to Ireland each year for critical traditional stocks around our coast such as cod, haddock and whiting.
Discarding of fish stocks will no longer be allowed. This ends the old policy which forced fishermen to waste food by discarding fish at sea. The new policy will result in higher quotas for our fishermen.
The new policy puts fishermen at the core of developing technical and conservation measures to protect juvenile fish and vulnerable fish species with a completely new regionalised decision making approach. This is a big change as up to now decision making was centralised in Brussels.
A commitment to develop and strengthen biologically sensitive areas, with spawning grounds and high populations of juvenile fish. This will protect and allow for
additional protections for the sensitive fishing grounds off the south and west coast of Ireland known as the "Irish Box".
Retains ownership of fish quotas as a public asset and removes the threat of privatisation of quotas and their concentration in large foreign companies. This will protect the family owned fishing vessels around our coast.
On ending discarding, Minister Coveney said "this complex element has been one of the most contentious and difficult to agree given the many different perspectives on how such a ban would work in practice. What we have agreed this morning is to deliver a new fishing policy which strives to help restore our fish stocks and protect the fishermen and communities which depend on fishing for their livelihoods."
The reform, when taken as a whole, delivers on not just a discards ban but also provides the means for new ways of sustainable fishing, a more transparent and competitive market, as well as empowering fishermen by giving them a central role in decision making for their fisheries.
The agreement was reached between the Irish Presidency, European Parliament and the European Commission and will now go to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for final approval.