Good news: this morning, just before 4 am, the European Parliament and Council of fisheries ministers reached a deal on the CFP Reform – and it’s actually not so bad.
The deal is not perfect, but it does address several of the main shortcomings of the previous CFP, which previously did not have as an objective to rebuild fish stocks (which is absurd given the fact that at the time of its enforcement, in 2002, around 94% of fish stocks were overfished). The new CFP has not only embraced this objective, but has taken it further to rebuild stocks above sustainable levels. This means that it aims to reach a security buffer that would allow policy makers to deal with anything unexpected that could happen.
On discards, let’s be honest, we would have preferred a full ban with no exceptions at all (currently the text allows a discard amount of 5%), but this ban will already require some massive changes in the way fishing is done, and this can only be a good thing. The deal also marks a real revolution in fisheries management in general, because Member States agreed that those who fish more sustainably should have priority access to fishing grounds. This is never been heard of before!
The CFP Reform has been a long process – and at this point, several of you must be asking yourself: now what? Is that just another deal that will lead to another vote and another negotiation?
The truth is, this is not the absolute end of the journey, but because the deal was accepted by MEP Ulrike Rodust, who is leading the negotiations and has already had intense discussions with all the shadow rapporteurs for the EP, it means that she is quite confident that she will have enough support to have it go through the Plenary smoothly.
We can thus safely say that the solid foundations of a new fisheries policy have been placed, and all that is left to do is to put up the walls. We’ve been impressed by how tough the Parliament has been during these negotiations and how united all political parties have been, showing one single front to Member States.
It’s been incredible to see how many Europeans got involved in this whole process, signing petitions, and reaching out to their representatives to let them know that enough is enough, and that now was the time to make a change for the better.