EUROPEAN UNION - The Fisheries Council and the European Parliament have finally reached an agreement on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) earlier this morning (30 May).
Following the meeting, EU Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, described the agreement as a historical step which will change the way all involved will fish in the future.
"We are paving the way for a sustainable future for our fishermen and our industry. We are going to do that by bringing fish stocks above sustainable levels. By aligning our fishing opportunities with scientific advice. By stopping discarding, catching fish and throwing it back dead into the sea and by stopping all other wasteful practices," said Ms Damanaki.
"Also we are going to apply the same principles when we are fishing abroad. We will fully respect international law and our commitments."
Speaking about the regionalisation the reform will bring Ms Damanaki stated: "We are going to stop having all the decision-making taking place in Brussels. Micromanagement will not be the way we operate anymore. We are going for regionalisation, to work together with the regional authorities & stakeholders to find specific and tailor-made solutions for each problem.
"Lastly, we are going to change our market policy by providing better information for the consumers so our fishermen can get for the fish the price it deserves."
The meeting also resulted in the controversial proposal for mandatory transferable fishing concessions to be rejected.
Uta Bellion of OCEAN2012 and The Pew Charitable Trusts welcomed the outcome of the meeting stating: "This is a well-deserved success for Commissioner Maria Damanaki, and a testament to her vision. Throughout the negotiations, German MEP, Ulrike Rodust, has displayed considerable skill building consensus throughout the European Parliament for an ambitious reform.
"Ms Rodust has played a pivotal role in clinching this deal, setting a precedent for responsible fisheries policy in the face of thirty years of mismanagement by fisheries ministers. And finally, Irish Fisheries Minister, Simon Coveney, is to be commended for succeeding in shifting the Council from its original general approach. However, the reform is not completely over - there are still technical issues to be resolved."
WWF, however, believes the agreement reached still fails to end overfishing over the next generations.
Tony Long, Director of the WWF European Policy Office, stated: "WWF acknowledges the constructive role played by the European Parliament in its attempt to bring about a deal that would reinvigorate a failed fisheries policy. While almost two-thirds of the assessed fish stocks in the EU are over-exploited and many fishermen face bankruptcy, the majority of EU’s governments have decided to stonewall negotiations and have refused to accept an agreement that would allow a full recovery and increased income for fishermen within the next 10 years.
“Even if the new Common Fisheries Policy does not address the deep problem of overcapacity, WWF hopes that we do not return to the old wasteful way of managing EU’s fish stocks. We will continue to ensure that fishermen, and stakeholders, with the support of the scientific community, will have a decisive say over how the industry is run."
Concluding, Ms Damanaki commented: "The next step, for me, is to take the same proactive attitude towards the implementation of the reforms, to make sure that they are a success for the industry, for our citizens and for Europe's economy."