On Wednesday 6 February, the European Parliament will vote as a co-legislator on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy for the first time.
After a Committee vote in December that was praised by environmental NGOs as a milestone vote for sustainable fisheries, all the members of the European Parliament are now set to vote on the fisheries reform in plenary 6 February.
End overfishing 2015
The report that MEPs will vote on is the most important file in the fisheries reform, the basic regulation (rapporteur Ulrike Rodust, S&D Germany).
Sources in the Parliament say that there will likely be a majority to support the report which was adopted in the Fisheries Committee. This would mean that the European parliament is set to adopt:
- Binding sustainable fishing quotas by 2015 in order to rebuild fish stocks to sustainable levels (above stock sizes that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, MSY) by 2020.
- A discard ban on all harvested species introduced between 2014 and 2017.
Next: negotiations with Council
After Parliament adopts its position, there will be negotiations with the Council during the next few months. Since the Parliament has had influence on the CFP as a co-legislator only since the adoption of the Lisbon treaty, this will be the first time the Parliament and Council will negotiate on the framework for the future of EU fisheries.
On the key issues of overfishing and discards, the Council position is quite different from the text that the Parliament is set to vote on.
- Fisheries ministers have declared that they want to begin setting quotas at MSY levels only by 2020.
- The discard ban is being debated in Council now, and sources say several member states want to weaken the discard ban in various ways, for example by postponing it and by introducing exemptions allowing up to 15 percent of the catches to be discarded.
First, the Rodust report needs to get through the plenary. MEPs have tabled 94 amendments. The targets of the amendments range from cancelling the discard ban (AM 297 – allowing 10 % of fish to be discarded and making the discard ban conditional upon the adoption of multiannual management plans) to requiring that environmental and social criteria are used when allocating fishing rights (AM 227).
It is possible that some of these amendments will be withdrawn before the vote. Members will also be able to request separate votes on parts of the committee report. The final voting list is expected to be available by Tuesday.
Rumours circulated Friday that procedural rules may be used to delay Wednesday’s vote by those who seek to block reform – but as MEP Chris Davies wrote: “you always get these rumours”. The vote is still scheduled for Wednesday. The final adoption of the agenda takes place at the opening of the session on Monday at 17:00.
How to follow the vote
A debate on the fisheries reform takes place Tuesday morning 8:30–10:30. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday some time between 11:30 and 14:00.