A number of countries, including France, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Greece and Romania, are resisting efforts to find common ground with the European Parliament on key issues such as fleet management and discards. Coveney must not give in to these short-sighted positions but instead re-double his efforts to win agreement with all fisheries ministers for an ambitious reform.
The only issue where the Council is currently showing willingness to compromise with the Parliament is on the subject of stock recovery to levels that can support the so-called maximum sustainable yield.
Recently, the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted for a far-reaching reform that would end four decades of overfishing and set the target to recover fish stocks by 2020. The Commission and millions of EU citizens support this reform and want to see an end to the misuse of taxpayers’ money and improvements in enforcement and fisheries control. Decisions taken by the EU fisheries Council are to blame for many of the failures of the Common Fisheries Policy and have led to a situation in which around two-thirds of European fish stocks are overexploited and almost one-third of fishing jobs have been lost in the last decade alone.
A breakdown of the fisheries reform negotiations under the Irish Presidency would only play into the hands of those countries that want to continue overfishing and avoid new measures to recover fish stocks and rebuild a sustainable fishing sector. The NGOs urge ministers to settle on a compromise that includes a timeline for stock recovery, targeted measures to eliminate excess fishing capacity and the promotion of low-impact fishing.