Displaying items by tag: Common Fisheries Policy
#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney will present a revised comprehensive compromise Irish EU presidency text to the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers on Monday 13 May seeking a new mandate to re-enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Minister Coveney said that these decisive negotiations for agreeing a comprehensive reform of the CFP in Brussels on 13-14 May are likely to be very difficult given the significance for the next decade of what may be decided at the meeting.
“An enormous amount of work has gone into progressing the reform with council, commission and parliament during the Irish presidency," he said. "We now have an Irish presidency substantially revised set of compromise proposals which I believe give us a sound basis for positive engagement at council.
"Agreement at council on this presidency compromise package would support an ambitious reformed CFP which would secure a better future for our fish stocks and for the fishermen and coastal communities who depend on them."
The minister emphasised that there is a "very short window of opportunity for council and parliament to agree and deliver an effective reform of our fisheries policy and the Irish presidency is doing all it can to bring the institutions together to take this historic opportunity.
"I believe that if all parties focus on the critical elements of a reformed CFP, we can by working together reach realistic and substantial agreement through the co-decision process during the Irish presidency.”
Formal negotiations with the European Parliament have resulted in the Irish presidency drawing up a revised compromise 200-page legal text, which Minister Coveney, as president of the council, will use as the basis of negotiations with EU fisheries ministers.
The objective is to get political agreement on a final compromise package to enable conclusion of negotiations with the parliament and the commission on CFP reform during the Irish presidency, which concludes at the end of June.
Minister Coveney will also update EU ministerial colleagues on progress made to date by the Irish presidency during the ‘trilogue’ process where EU presidency (council), commission and parliament have been engaged in complex discussions on refining proposals for CFP reform.
#CFPreform - RTÉ News reports that up to 200 conservation groups in Ireland and abroad have written to Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his EU counterparts urging his support for an end to overfishing in European waters by 2015.
The groups claim that mismanagement of EU fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy has resulted in significant overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean where as much as 80% of fish stocks are fished far beyond sustainable levels.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney - who is President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers - welcomed a vote in February on a reform agenda for the CFP, which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency before the six-month term concludes at the end of June.
One of the fishing net innovations involves a bendable plastic grid attached to the middle of a trawl net that allows smaller fish and juveniles to pass through while snaring the valuable larger catch.
Another design, the Rollerball net, attempts to eliminate the problem of heavy trawling gear churning up debris on the sea floor while reducing drag and saving on boats' fuel bills.
Assuaging concerns over the prohibitive costs for fishermen, Damanaki says she hopes that such 'smart nets' will be subsidised by as much as 85% - while emphasising that the adoption of new technology could mean the difference between being allowed to fish or being banned from the ocean.
Wheelhouse CCTV cameras are another method that has been shown to reduce discards to less than 1% in some cases - and Damanaki says they will be essential if the CFP reforms indeed include a zero tolerance policy on fish discards.
BBC News has much more on the story HERE.
#Fishing - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney will be seeking agreement from his European colleagues at next week’s Fisheries Council on how when and how introduce an effective discards ban in the context of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
At the June 2012 Fisheries Council, ministers did not reach agreement on how a discard ban would be implemented or when such a ban would be introduced.
The challenge for Minister Coveney as president of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers is to secure wide agreement at council on an ambitious early date for the introduction of a ban in all waters across the EU from the Baltic & North Sea to the North Eastern Atlantic, the Mediteranean and the Black Sea.
Ministers will need to agree the practical measures that will ensure that the ban is capable of being effectively implemented in all these areas.
In a review of global discarding, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) noted that the North East Atlantic has the highest discard level in the world, estimated at 1.3 million tonnes, the majority attributed to EU fisheries. The EU Commission itself estimates that 23% of all fish caught by EU vessels are discarded.
Discarding occurs in almost every fishery, in every area and across most fleets in the European Union. Every member state operating fishing operations on the open sea has a discard problem. Many member states have significant levels of discards in certain fisheries, and for varying reasons.
The policy to stop discarding of fish and to change behaviour of fishermen so that unwanted by-catches and juvenile fish are no longer caught must be seen as an integral part of fisheries management in general and serve the overarching goals of moving to long-term management based on ecosystem considerations and reaching maximum sustainable yield by 2015, where possible, and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks.
The three European institutions, all member states and importantly the Irish presidency are fully supportive and committed to the introduction of a discard ban.
A very important element of delivering the overall objective will be the introduction across all fisheries of smarter and more selective fishing gear, strengthened selectivity measures and changed fishing practices that avoid to the greatest extent possible unwanted catches particularly those of juvenile fish.
To assist the debate on discards and facilitate actions to resolve the problem, Ireland published a 'Discards Atlas' detailing the full extent of discards by the Irish whitefish fleet. It is critically important that other member states do likewise to support the introduction of the new policy and inform measures that will be needed to ensure that a new policy is fully implemented by EU fishing fleets.
Minister Coveney commented: "I am and continue to be a strong advocate for a policy which eliminates the wasteful practice of discards.”
On the prospects for council, he said: “I am under no illusion of the challenges the effective implementation of a discards policy pose for European fishermen and for the member states of the EU, and will work intensively with my European ministerial colleagues over the course of the February Council to deliver a policy with an ambitious timetable for implementation that will end the discarding of fish and support the rebuilding of fish stocks and the future of coastal communities depending on fishing.
"It is my firm belief that the success or failure of the reformed CFP will be judged to a large extent on the effectiveness of whatever discard ban is introduced and that there is widespread support for the ban from the fishing nations of the EU and their fishermen.
"It is imperative that European fisheries ministers collectively take this progressive but challenging decision now and co-operate in agreeing appropriate and effective measures to eliminate discards with ambitious timelines."
Agreement in the council will free up the Irish presidency, on behalf of the council, to begin negotiations with the European Parliament and Commission to reach political agreement on a new reformed Common Fisheries Policy by June.
#CFPReform - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, in his capacity as President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, last week welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on the reform agenda for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency.
The vote, which is seen a major step forward in the CFP reform process, follows the minister’s address to parliament on Tuesday last. At the address the minister appealed for all parties to work together towards an agreed CFP reform package to be delivered during the period of Ireland’s presidency.
These reforms, which prioritise long term sustainability of fishing stocks, elimination of the controversial practice of discards (dumping at sea) and a switch to long-term (scientifically based) planning for fisheries, were approved by the parliament on Wednesday 6 February.
The decision of the parliament follows the minister’s address last Tuesday during which he identified the reforms as a major priority on the Irish Government’s EU presidency agenda.
Minister Coveney stated: “I am delighted that the parliament has today decided to back these necessary and timely reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and that the case for reform outlined in my recent address has been accepted in an agreed manner.
"I am particularly encouraged that this vote has occurred during the Irish EU Presidency. This shows the pivotal role which Ireland can play in influencing broader European Policy and in bringing together divergent views towards an agreed reform package for the CFP.
"Ireland has set out an ambitious work programme aimed at delivering an agreed reform package for the CFP by the end of June. This objective can only be realised if [European] Parliament, Council and the Commission work together focusing on the bigger picture of an agreed reform agenda to benefit all of Europe’s citizens.”
During his address to the plenary session of European parliamentarians, Minister Coveney expressed his view that a momentum was now gathering behind the drive to deliver an agreed reformed CFP package by the end of June.
Acknowledging to the parliament that he had set out an ambitious work programme for his presidency, the minister accepted that differences remain between the European Council and Parliament, particularly on the question of multi-annual fisheries plans.
Minister Coveney emphasised the significant areas of common ground between both institutions and his belief that this would eventually lead to an agreed way forward on most aspects of the reform package. He stressed that it was only in a framework of mutual cooperation and flexibility that the objective of a reformed CFP which prioritises long term fisheries sustainability could be delivered in the lifetime of the current Irish Presidency.
The minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance for the EU Parliament, Council and Commission to work together on all the issues including delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.
Following an exchange of views, the minister sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement by the end of June in addition to acceptance of the need for a different and more effective way of working to deliver on what is a commonly held objective. He committed to working constructively with the parliament on all outstanding issues.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Marine Minister Simon Coveney welcomed a deal signed on Friday 18 January between the EU and Norway on allowable catches and quotas.
The agreement was seen as a positive move at the end of a week of talks at the National Seafood Centre, which followed a number of false starts due to difficulties in balancing mutual access and management arrangements.
Minister Coveney said that meetings taking place in Brussels today (28 January) are "about setting the scene for six months of intensive work" to produce dossiers for both the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, for which he hopes definitive reforms can be achieved by this summer.
Both the CFP and CAP account for 40% of the European Union budget.
#Fishing - The EU fisheries deal secured by Marine Minister Simon Coveney in Brussels yesterday has been variously described as "horrendous" and "a mixed bag" by Irish fishing industry stakeholders, as The Irish Times reports.
Yesterday Minister Coveney said he was pleased to secure "a good deal for Irish fishermen" after difficult negotiations, one "that will support our fishing industry over the coming year and which is sustainable in terms of the fish stocks on which we are dependant".
A total in excess of 216,000 tonnes of fish quotas is available to Irish fishermen in 2013 under the deal, split between more than 35,500 tonnes of whitefish and 180,000 tonnes of pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel.
But Ebbie Sheehan, chair of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation, described the deal as "horrendous" - singling out cuts to Ireland's haddock and monkfish quotas, species of which he said "there is an absolute abundance".
Meanwhile, Federation of Irish Fisherman chair Eibhlin O'Sullivan, while welcoming the increased quotas for prawns and blue whiting, claimed the agreement was "a mixed bag" for Ireland, noting that the cut in the haddock quota runs contrary to moves to bring and end to fish discards - a process the minister committed to supporting earlier this year.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
The vote comes just weeks before Ireland assumes its six-month EU Presidency term in January - and has been described by MEP Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher as significant step towards tacking the problem of discards in a practical manner.
Earlier this year Europe's fisheries ministers hailed a "breakthrough" deal on ending the practice of discards, whereby countless numbers of fish are thrown back into the sea under the quota system implemented by the CFP.
However, environmental groups criticised the timeline for implementation of the discards ban, as well as the "vague" wording of the proposed limits on fishermen.
Meanwhile, Minister Coveney was last month accused of "hypocrisy" by environmental groups for his support of fishing fleet subsidies that they argue would be used by bigger fishing countries like France and Spain to exploit dwindling stocks in Irish waters.
Markus Knigge, a consultant with environmental lobby group Ocean 2012, said Minister Coveney's position on the matter was a U-turn on his previous commitment to end the practice of discarding fish at sea.
The EU Fisheries Council, which runs from today till Thursday 20 December, will among other issues see quotas for the Irish fishing fleet decided for 2013.
Ireland is facing severe double-digit cuts in almost 30 different fish stocks considered vital to the Irish fishing industry.
The minister has described the negotiations as the "most difficult" in years.
#FISHING - Marine Minister Simon Coveney has been accused of "hypocrisy" by supporting subsidies for modernising Europe's fishing fleets despite his previous opposition to overfishing.
The Sunday Times reports that Minister Coveney signalled his backing for new subsidies that would allow European fishermen to modernise their trawlers at a meeting to discuss reform of the Common Fisheries Policy recently.
However, environmental groups argue that such subsidies would be used by bigger fishing countries like France and Spain to exploit already dwindling fish stocks in Irish waters.
"Coveney and his advisers made a number of strategic mistakes in supporting the continued payments of subsidies to Europe's fishermen," said Markus Knigge, a consultant with environmental lobby group Ocean 2012.
"The Spanish are the main beneficiaries and they will use part of this money to improve their fleet, which will enter Irish waters and catch even more fish and deplete Irish stocks. Ireland really voted to allow Spain to overfish its waters."
Knigge said Minister Coveney's position on the matter was a U-turn on his previous commitment to end the practice of discarding fish at sea.
An agreement reached by Europe's fisheries ministers this summer was criticised as "vague" by environmental groups and 'fish fight' campaigners.
Meanwhile, Ebbie Sheehan of the Irish Fishermen's Organisation said that what Irish fishermen really needed was not subsidies but permission to land the fish they catch, instead of being forced to discard fish when they go over quota.
#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Globe and Mail reports that Canada is keeping tabs on an EU plan to "manage" Europe's seal population amid growing controversy over the issue.
Last month the European Parliament approved a resolution on the Common Fisheries Policy that called for the European Commission to investigate the impact of "natural predators such as sea lions, seals and cormorants" on the reduction of fish stocks and draw up plans to regulate their numbers.
Canada's sealing industry claims this about-face in EU policy is hypocritical considering Europe's ban on commercial seal products three years ago, as well as its longstanding criticism of the Canadian seal hunt.
Already Scotland has approved a cull that has granted licences to kill over 1,000 seals on its coastline this year alone. And fishermen in Ireland, particularly on the west coast, are calling for the Irish authorities to take similar action.
Afloat.ie has previously reported on the tensions between fishermen and marine wildlife campaigners over the impact of protected seal populations on fish stocks.
Over the summer, the Dingle Seal Sanctuary claimed that a number of horrific reports of illegal seal killings committed by culprits unknown are part of a "swing in activity" since the start of the year - although the National Parks and Wildlife Service said it has not recorded any increase.
Fishermen in Kerry have come out in condemnation of these illegal killings, in particular the barbaric scene in which two baby seal heads were nailed to signs outside the Dingle sanctuary in early June.
However, they maintain that a cull of the local grey seal population is necessary, claiming they are "over-protected" and can consume as much as 10kg of fish each per day, resulting in depleted stocks of hake and haddock, as well as posing a threat to salmon conservation measures.
The Globe and Mail has more on the story HERE.