After 18 hours of negotiations, fisheries minister from the 27 EU Member States yesterday adopted the General Approach for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The text, voted by a qualified majority, maintains the most important provisions of the original Commission proposal such as the objective to restore fish stocks at Maximum Sustainable Yield, but postpones all priority target deadlines by several years.
“Although this result is highly disappointing, particularly with regards to the discard ban, it is realistically the best outcome we could have expected from the Fisheries Council”, stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Ministers did not question the need to change fisheries management, they just admitted that they are not ready to do it right now. It is now up to the Parliament to lead and make the necessary and immediate changes required.”
By pushing the MSY objective back, the Council has essentially prevented the EU from achieving Good Environmental Status in European waters by 2020 – a binding obligation under EU law. Furthermore the decision to delay the discard ban and to incorporate it into the Multiannual Plans, which have been stuck in political limbo for the last two years, will do little to address and reverse the waste of hundreds of thousands of tons of fish.