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EU agriculture ministers to hold first vote on fishing discards

A meeting chaired by Simon Coveney will form the first steps in ending the discarding of fish by the end of the decade,

Image: Rowan Miles/EMPICS Entertainment

EUROPE’S AGRICULTURE MINISTERS will today take the first concrete steps towards abandoning the practice of fishing discards.

Ministers meeting in Brussels, at a meeting chaired by Simon Coveney, will hold their first vote on proposals agreed last year which would phase out the practice by the end of the decade.

European rules currently mean it is illegal for a fishing vessel to carry fish beyond a country’s quota for that species of fish, or if a fish itself does not meet a ‘minimum’ landing size.

This is so that juvenile fish can be left in the water and have time to grow and breed further – but delays in examining a fishing catch often mean that these small fish, or those which are surplus to national limits, are dead before they can be returned to the water.

Last June ministers and the European Commission agreed the terms of proposals which would maintain quotas, but eliminate discards on a phased basis – with today marking the first time that a formal vote will be held.

If approved today, the proposals will then be referred to the European Parliament for a vote by MEPs. If they also approve it without amendment, the moves become law; if MEPs want them changed, the changes are sent back to ministers for further consideration.

Ministers will also discuss the mislabelling of beef products, with an information note circulated by the Irish presidency used as the starting point to discuss a further response to the crisis.

Read: EU deal means eventual ban on throwing back unwanted dead fish

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Gavan Reilly

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