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Spanish Minister Happy With EU Council's Discard Ruling

28 February 2013

SPAIN - The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Miguel Arias Cañete, has welcomed the agreement reached at the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers as it allows a reasonable timetable to introduce a ban on discards and contains elements of flexibility that can allow the Spanish fleet to comply with this ban without unreasonable sacrifices.

Mr Arias Cañete was speaking at a press conference in Brussels, after more than twenty hours of negotiations that ended at five-thirty this morning.

Specifically, Mr Arias Cañete has stated that the debate has focused on the aspects that in June 2012 were pending, including a discard ban and measures of environmental protection in Member States' waters.

Mr Arias Cañete indicated that, given the state of resources, "the Spanish Government understands that a discard policy is necessary, but we are also very aware that fishing fleets must be able to adapt to such radical changes."

According to the minister, you can not pass immediately from a permissive situation catch returned to the sea to a situation where all catches must be landed, "because that would create enormous distortions and have a major impact on the communities that depend on fishing ".

Therefore, the Government's intention was to introduce elements of flexibility in time to allow the fleet to adapt. In this regard, Arias Cañete has revealed that negotiations have not been easy, given the reluctance of some Member States, "but Spain has played an important role in the defense of fisheries and supports sustainability."

The Spanish delegation focused on postponing the date of entry into force of the reform. Thus, the ban on discards for hake will take effect in 2016, instead of 2015, and from 2019, instead of 2018, for other target species in demersal fisheries ( deepwater species).

"Thanks to this extension of the transitional period, the Spanish fleet will adapt to the new EU rules on discards," he noted.

Also from 2019 is going to allow certain percentages of the total discards over-quota catches, which would be nine per cent in 2019 and 2020, from eight per cent in 2021 and 2022, and seven per cent from 2023.

The minister stressed that this level is significantly higher than the five per cent proposed in June 2012.

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