IRELAND - North Western Waters (NWW) Group of EU Member States has unanimously agreed on a Discards Plan.
The group of states was chaired by Ireland, and also included Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney welcomed the new Regional Agreement to reduce the wasteful discarding of unwanted fish, which will cover all of the waters around Ireland as well as the Channel, and will come into effect from 1 January 2016.
Mr Coveney said: “During the negotiations for a new Common Fisheries Policy, one of my key objectives was to introduce a gradual phasing out of the discarding of fish.
"Today marks the real beginning of that journey where Ireland has managed to secure agreement with our Regional partners on a plan that will see a number of important fisheries covered by the new obligation to land all catches in 2016. The development of the Plan was undertaken in close consultation with stakeholders through the North West Waters Advisory Council.”
He continued: “All catches in all fisheries will have to be landed from 2019 onwards and today’s agreement outlines the first steps on that journey that will allow our fleets the necessary time to gradually adjust and prepare for the full implementation of the landing obligation.
"The journey is not going to be easy but I am satisfied that this agreement, reached in consultation with all of the key stakeholders, is a good start. Our national Discards Implementation Group under Dr Noel Cawley will now have a clear blueprint to help prepare our industry for the changes to come.”
The phased introduction of a landing obligation for species subject to catch limits is a key element of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), aimed at reducing catches of juvenile fish and eliminating discards.
The ban on discarding will apply to the prawn (nephrops) fishery in all waters, the whiting fishery in the Celtic Sea, and the haddock fishery in the Irish Sea and in the North West area from 1 January 2016.
The Member States have committed to rolling out the landing obligation to other fisheries over the period to 2019 when it will apply to all stocks.
Mr Coveney added “I am providing funding support to the fishing industry through the new EU Fisheries Operational Programme, which I am currently progressing, for the effective delivery of the new measures.
"I have also tasked BIM and the MI to undertake a project over the summer period to explore the potential impact of the landing obligation on commercial fishing activity and I am making up to €450,000 available for this work.
"This project will follow up on the work undertaken last autumn on discard simulation trials.”
TheFishSite News Desk