The Council early on Wednesday morning adopted a ‘general approach’ on the Common Fisheries Policy. France welcomes the delay of a discard ban, while greens, liberals and NGOs criticise the delay of ending overfishing.
Here are the consolidated documents [Update 14 June 18:56]
General approach on the CFP basic regulation
General approach on common market organisation
Additional notes on the General approach on the basic regulation & CMO regulation
Many gaps in discard ban
Despite initial claims that an agreement had been reached on a discard ban, the agreement is just provisional and has many loopholes. Important parts of the text on discards are still in [square brackets], and a special group in Council will deal with the details at a later stage, a presidency official said. The Council has agreed on having one date for the main species and a later date for bycatch species. For the North Sea, the discard ban is proposed to be gradually introduced between 2015 and 2018. The French minister Frédéric Cuvillier welcomed that the text includes the principle of a minimal percentage of allowed discards as well as increased quotas to include the otherwise discarded fish.
MSY by 2020
A presidency official said that on maximum sustainable yield (MSY) nothing has changed compared to last week’s draft text. That means that Council wants to achieve MSY exploitation rates “where possible” 2015 and 2020 for all stocks.
In a press release the French fisheries minister, Frédéric Cuvillier, welcomes that there is no immediate introduction of a discard ban, and that the discard ban won’t be in place until 2018 or 2019 depending on the area.
Spain’s fisheries minister, Miguel Arias Cañete, said in a statement that the agreement was a step forward for Spain compared to the Commission’s proposal.
The Swedish fisheries minister, Eskil Erlandsson, said he did not support the general approach. One of the reasons was that ministers could not agree on all issues regarding a discard ban. Five other member states are also reported to have opposed the deal, for various reasons, but there was no formal vote.
European Parliament & Commission reactions
The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament issued a press release, saying that by delaying the end to overfishing ministers are prescribing the continuation of a fisheries industry based on overfishing and resulting unprofitability.
Chris Davies, a liberal UK MEP and secretary of the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group in the European Parliament, said in a statement, “For governments to say that we should stop overfishing but perhaps not for another eight years is little short of madness.”
Commissioner Maria Damanaki tweeted: “It is a fact that the Commission proposal for CFP reform is more ambitious than the [Council] text we have in front of us now.”
Markus Knigge, advisor to Ocean2012, issued a statement in which he said, “We are now looking to the European Parliament to support a Common Fisheries Policy reform that delivers a healthy marine environment and viable fisheries dependent communities.”
Council press release and video
After 18 hours of negotiations, at 4:20 in the morning, Danish fisheries minister and Council president Mette Gjerskov tweeted that Council had reached a general approach on discard and MSY “which brings us closer to a radically sustainable reform.”
Two press releases have been issued, one by the Council, and one by the Danish Presidency. The Council press release says that MSY “where possible” means “when scientific advice on the stocks are available”, but there is no such definition made in the actual text of the general approach.
Video, blog & photos from the meeting:
Parts of the Council discussions were public. Ronny Patz wrote a live blog both from the open sessions both in the morning and in the night. and the video can be seen on the Council’s website. Photos from the meeting.