Tuesday

25th Jul 2017

Ministers agree 'new dawn' on EU fisheries

  • A total EU ban on discards is to be in place in 2017 (Photo: Commission)

The EU's controversial practice on discarding fish will come to an end in 2017 under a deal brokered by the Irish presidency.

After talks that lasted into the small hours of Tuesday morning (27 February), EU fisheries ministers agreed a compromise to phase out the practice between 2014 and January 2017.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A ban on dumping pelagic fish, which includes hake and mackerel, will start between 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile, discarding the main demersal stocks, including hake and whiting, in the North Sea and the North and South Western waters would be outlawed from January 2016.

Finally, the discard ban will apply to fisheries in the Mediterranean and all other EU waters from January 2017.

The practice of discarding unwanted fish so that they cannot be counted against quotas was introduced as part of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 1983, ostensibly to protect fish stocks. But critics say the practice is unethical and a waste of effort.

Ireland's fisheries minister, Simon Coveney, described the deal as "a historic milestone in European Fisheries Policy" and as the "dawn of a new age for EU fisheries."

He also praised ministers for "their co-operation, help and stamina in agreeing this very ambitious programme for change."

Currently, 23 percent of caught fish are thrown back into the sea because they exceed quotas. Discards are often either dead or dying when they are thrown back.

Ministers had agreed the principles of a discard ban in June 2012 but haggled over the way the ban would be implemented to protect their national fisheries industries.

An EU official involved in the talks told this website that northern member states were keen to move faster on a discard ban.

"There's not a north south divide but geography is relevant", he said, adding that the presidency was keen to avoid "a Christmas tree of exemptions."

Coveney conceded that the issue was "always going to be contentious and resolving it difficult, not that there was any disagreement on the overall objective, but because there were divergent views on the associated management tools needed to make a discard ban a reality in practice.”

The deal swiftly drew criticism from Green MEPs. Isabella Lovin, the group's spokesperson on fisheries, described the agreement as "depressingly unambitious" accusing ministers of "bowing to pressure from countries like France and Spain."

"With many fish stocks teetering on the brink, we cannot afford a fudged or delayed reform," she added.

Meanwhile, lawmakers want a newly-created European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to help fishermen adjust to the new regime.

The EMFF, which is expected to have a €6.7 billion budget as part of the 2014-2020 EU budget framework, is to be used to pay for nets and equipment for small-scale coastal fleets.

The discards ban is the centrepiece of an overhaul of the CFP in a bid to safeguard the future of the industry.

Figures presented by the European Commission say that 80 percent of Mediterranean fish stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic ones are over-fished and becoming dangerously depleted.

The Irish presidency still has to broker a deal between ministers and the European Parliament.

Talks with MEPs, who have also backed a discards ban, are set to start within weeks, as the Irish government bids to finalise a deal before the end of its six-month presidency in June.

MEPs back end to fish discard 'madness'

MEPs have voted in more eco-friendly rules on fish discards as part of a package to reform the EU's much-maligned common fisheries policy

Opinion

EU fisheries reform losing momentum

After a promising start, fundamental reform of EU fisheries polices has lost momentum but it is not too late to repair some of the damage to the engine room of the 2012 reform.

Opinion

Inching towards a fisheries deal

As fish ministers meet in Brussels Monday, the Common Fisheries Policy is on the brink of a crucial step in its reform process.

EU agrees overhaul of fisheries policy

The controversial 'discard' practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea faces an effective ban as part of an overhaul of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

Opinion

Fisheries reform: Time to draw in the net

Achieving healthy fish stocks globally was a key challenge flowing from Rio+20 and will be a central litmus test for realizing an inclusive Green economy.

Column / Brexit Briefing

UK presses the Brexit pause button

Originally, a transitional deal to soften the UK's exit from the EU was seen as a no-go on the British side, but now it is seeming more and more likely.

News in Brief

  1. Wallonia's Magnette leaves national politics
  2. Polish president vetoes justice reforms
  3. Turkey arrests protesters, as journalists go to trial
  4. Poll: Only 24% of Germans want 'strong leader'
  5. US envoy: 'hot war' not frozen conflict in Ukraine
  6. BMW denies Dieselgate cartel allegations
  7. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  8. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School