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EU ministers ban trawlers from discarding fish

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the reform marked “extraordinary progress” in the Common Fisheries Policy.

Image: A.M.Ahad/AP/Press Association Images

AFTER 21 HOURS of talks, European Union agriculture ministers agreed to ban fishing trawlers from discarding fish overboard.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who chaired the meeting, said the practice was a “policy failure” of the Common Fisheries Policy that was “no long acceptable”.

The deal reached overnight will see an ‘obligation to land’ clause phased in across European waters between next year and 2019.

In 2014, all pelagic fish caught by trawlers will have to be landed. The same will apply to white fish from the Baltic Sea in 2015 and fish from western waters and the North Sea in 2016.

In 2017, Mediterranean and Black Sea trawlers will be subject to the ban.

The “fundamental change” marks “extraordinary progress” in CFP reform, Coveney told Morning Ireland.

“This will end a practice that is more upsetting for fishermen than anyone else,” he added. “It is immoral and impractical.”

There will be extra financial assistance required for the fishing industry as “new, more targeted” methods will be needed, continued Coveney, who pledged to work with Irish fisherman to support them in the changes.

Hundreds of millions of euro worth of fish are discarded, dead, into the sea each year because fishermen have reached their quota or they are not allowed to fish the species caught.

The fish that will now be landed “out-of-quota” will not be sold on for profit as that could incentivise over-fishing. Some of the fish that is landed will go into the dog-food market, while other countries will be allowed to contribute their fish free-of-charge to charities.

“The discarding issue was always going to be contentious,” Coveney said in a subsequent statement this morning. “And resolving it difficult, not there there was any disagreement on the overall objective, but because there were divergent views on the associated managment tools needed to make a discard ban a reality in practice.

“It has been a long day and night, but a fruitful one. We can look forward to the completion of reform of the CFP with confidence, in the knowledge that we have taken a major step to secure the long-term sustainability of the stocks in European waters.”

EU agriculture ministers to hold first vote on fishing discards

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