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MEP's Decide to Delay Sanctions on Fish Discard Ban

29 April 2015

EU - Fishermen will have two years to adapt to the fish discard ruling before sanctions for failing to comply take effect, under a law passed by Parliament yesterday (28 April).

The draft law, already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers, amends the “omnibus” regulation on arrangements for enforcing the ban. Obliging fishermen to land unwanted catches, rather than throw them back, is a key aim of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

"The new rules oblige fishermen to land all fish caught during a fishing trip. It will be extremely difficult to implement, especially for multi-species and artisanal fisheries. Our common concern is to preserve fisheries resources while maintaining a viable economy. The agreement we have found helps mitigate some of the negative effects of the new rules for fishermen," said rapporteur and Fisheries Committee chair Alain Cadec (EPP, FR).

Key changes to the original proposal

  • The European Commission must draft an annual report on implementation of the requirement to land unwanted catches.

  • There will now be two-year delay before sanctions for failing to comply with the landing obligation take effect.

  • The requirement to stow undersized fish separately by species was removed.

  • For small fishermen, the obligation to record the catches in a fishing logbook was limited to catches of a species in excess of 50 kg.

  • The draft law provides for a mechanism to prevent the development of a parallel market for non-marketable catches.

These rules are urgently needed because the discard ban is already in force (since 1 January 2015), for pelagic species, and the "landing obligation" regulation is needed to adapt seven current EU laws which conflict with the new rules. The ban is to take effect gradually, in stages, between now and 2019.

Next steps

The EU Council of Ministers must now formally approve the draft law, after which it will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force on the third day following its publication.

The Omnibus Regulation clarifies the technical and control rules that apply in relation to the landing obligation which is coming into force gradually between 2015 and 2019. The Council of Ministers is expected to express its support to the agreement shortly, after which the new rules will become applicable.

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