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Coveney makes "major step" for Irish fishermen

The Minister for Agriculture has said that final negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy are to begin soon.

FINAL NEGOTIATIONS WILL take place soon on the Common Fisheries Policy, and Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney hopes that the European Parliament will agree to the plan he has put on the table.

Minister Coveney TD announced that after 36 hours of negotiations a new mandate from EU Fisheries Ministers had been secured to enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

The new position drafted by the Council of Ministers is based on a revised 200 page compromise legal text which Minister Coveney presented to fisheries ministers this morning.

Minister Coveney said:

This agreement follows very difficult and complex negotiations, it amounts to a significant compromise on behalf of my fellow Fisheries Ministers to allow further negotiations with the European Parliament take place to finalise the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the coming weeks.

The Minister said this decision by the Council “is a major conciliatory step in the direction of the European Parliament and hopefully paves the way for successful conclusion of the inter-institutional negotiations on the reform”.

The Irish Presidency has prioritised securing CFP reform before the end of its term.

Challenges

Minister Coveney said that the council has recognised the practical challenges of fishermen and the potential socio-economic impacts in coastal communities during the negotiations.

I believe that the historic package agreed this morning will prepare the way for a Europe-wide discards ban, facilitate more sustainable fishing levels in addition to appropriate management of fleet capacity and a workable regionalisation policy.

He said that the package agreed this morning will allow the rebuilding of the fish stocks in European waters and will allow for significant quota increases for fishermen as the wasteful practice of discarding fish is phased out.

He added that the benefits will include rebuilding Ireland’s fish stocks.

The policy would see a phasing out of fish discards from 2015 – 2019, he told RTÉ radio show Morning Ireland, saying that in effect discarding will be ended, as “only when a fisherman can show that he cannot avoid catching a bycatch will he be allowed use the minimum figure [of 5 per cent]” for discards.

Sean O’ Donoghue of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation in Donegal said that he welcomed the news and that the fishermen are “quite pleased” overall.

He added that it is a complex and multi-faceted issue.

Read: EU ministers ban trawlers from discarding fish>

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