Crucial fisheries decisions in Brussels this week

This will be an intense fisheries week in Brussels, with ministers setting next year’s quotas and the Parliament’s Fisheries Committee voting on the most important file in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

EU fisheries ministers will set quotas for the North Sea and Atlantic next year. The UK fisheries minister, Richard Benyon, described this yearly tradition to the Observer: “It is 48 hours of solid, sweaty negotiations. It is known as a three-shirter session.”

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote 18 December to put a stop to this tradition.

MEPs will vote on the following proposals: Fishing quotas should be fixed at certain limits under multi-annual plans, instead of having 48-hour negotiations once a year. In case a multi-annual plan is not in place for a fish stock, there will be a default rule forcing ministers to follow scientific advice and set sustainable quotas. More precisely, sustainable quotas would be put in place 2015 in order to rebuild fish stocks to healthy levels by 2020.

However, the vote is expected to be very tight. There is a division between MEPs who want to rebuild fish stocks on the one side, and MEPs who want to keep the status quo on the other. One member of the Fisheries Committee, UK liberal Chris Davies, tweeted last week: “Counting Heads. Very tight. Maybe one vote in it on rebuilding fish stocks.”

Everybody can follow the voting online on Monday on the Committee website. The rapporteur, Ulrike Rodust (Germany, S&D), has scheduled a press conference 16:30 Tuesday 18 December, which can also be viewed online.

More information: Fisheries Committee meeting 17–18 December 2012
> Meeting documents and agenda
> Watch the meeting live online
> Compromise amendments (replacing some of the more than 2500 original amendments)
> Voting list (209 pages!)

More information: Council meeting 18–20 December 2012
> Meeting documents and agenda available on Council website
> ICES advice, on which the Commission based its proposal for fishing opportunities
> Commission proposal for fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea 2013
> Commission proposal for fishing opportunities for 2013 for fish stocks under international agreements
> Commission proposal for fishing opportunities for the Black Sea for 2013
> WWF published a report saying that EU ministers over the last nine years on average set quotas 45% higher than the recommended scientific advice (14 December 2012)
> Fishing industry organisations Europêche and Copa-Cogeca wrote a letter imploring ministers not to reduce quota (13 December 2012)

Axel Naver

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