Fisheries Council: threat of collapse hangs over fisheries reform



Fisheries Council: threat of collapse hangs over fisheries reform

WHAT? EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council

WHEN? Monday 13 & Tuesday 14 May

WHERE? Brussels, Belgium

Fisheries ministers will meet in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday to revise their position on the reform of EU fishing rules. NGOs warn that the reluctance of some countries, including France, Spain and Poland, to find common ground with the Parliament on key issues of the reform is threatening to collapse the negotiations on a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

On 6 February, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a comprehensive and ambitious overhaul of the CFP to rebuild fish stocks by 2020, promote low-impact fishing, strengthen fleet management and ban discards [1]. The Parliament’s negotiator, MEP Ulrike Rodust, has signalled that she would be prepared to compromise, but that a significant strengthening of the Council’s position would be needed to broker a deal [3].

NGOs are calling on the Council to back fish stock recovery by 2020, reduce fishing capacity in accordance with agreed guidelines, support financial penalties for countries that fail to implement agreed rules and abandon loopholes that weaken the proposed discard ban. A breakdown of negotiations would only satisfy the short-term interest of countries that want to avoid new measures to end overfishing, recover fish stocks and rebuild a sustainable fishing sector.

Background information: (add other links of interest)

Fisheries Council agenda:–13-14-May.pdf

BirdLife Europe – Caroline Jacobsson –

Greenpeace – Mark Breddy +32 (0) 496 156229 –

Oceana – Angela Pauly – +32 (2) 25132242

OCEAN2012 – Mike Walker +32 (0)476 622575

WWF – Alexandra Bennett –

Notes: [check order of footnotes against order in text above]

[1] Euro MPs back large-scale fishing reform to save stocks,



European Parliament position (6 February 2013)



Council position (26 February 2013)


Stock recovery

Seeks to eliminate overfishing by 2015 to recover fish stocks above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2020 at the latest.

Seeks to eliminate overfishing by 2015 “where possible” and in other cases, allow overfishing to continue until 2020; does not include any stock recovery target.


Fleet capacity

Member States are to:

i) report their fishing capacity annually by fleet segment, using Commission guidelines to ensure the quality of reporting is improved;

ii) to reduce fleet overcapacity; and

iii) subsidy payments are to be suspended if a country has not complied with above.

Member States are to:

i) report their fishing capacity annually by fleet segment, but rejects the mandatory use of agreed Commission guidelines;

ii)  opposes suspensions of subsidies to countries that have not reported or failed to reduce their fishing capacity.


Low-impact fishing

Promotes low-impact fishing methods, including through preferential access to fishing quotas.

Opposes preferential access for fishermen that use low-impact fishing methods.



Has expressed zero tolerance for discards; wants discard ban to apply to all fish species.

Accepts only a partial discard ban for species governed by a quota or a minimum landing size (which is the case for just 15 per cent of stocks in the Mediterranean) and is pushing for major loopholes, including a maximum discarding rate of 7-9 per cent.

[2] Rodust writes letter to ministers: Parliament is ready to compromise,