Deal agreed at EU Fisheries Council

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A deal agreed at the European Union Council of Ministers on Wednesday has cleared the way for the final stage of the long overdue reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Under the deal, which has still to be ratified by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers agreed a mandate for those final negotiations to include a ‘workable’ framework for a discards ban and, at the heart of the new CFP, a greater degree of regional control of fisheries.

Commenting on the news, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive, Bertie Armstrong, said: “We have yet to see the details, but with the political decision to ban discards already taken, we seem to have achieved a mostly common-sense position on its introduction, with the first phase postponed until 2015 and a certain amount of flexibility built into the rest of the programme.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative fisheries spokesman Jamie McGrigor said: “In terms of the Common Fisheries Policy, it must be borne in mind that the Scottish fishing fleet has done more for the conservation of fishing stocks than any other and that their diligence in this respect should be recognised by the EU when setting targets for the future.

“We will continue to push for more management decisions to be taken closer to home so that they are relevant to local fishing industries.

“I note that discard bans in the pelagic sector will not commence until 2015 and in the more complicated demersal sector not until 2016.

“I believe this is fair to fishermen, allowing them time to prepare for the discard ban as obviously it will mean a fundamental change in fishing methods and on-shore practice -this cannot be achieved overnight.

“It appears that the Commissioner is still trying to overcome legal hurdles on the mackerel issue before imposing sanctions but something needs to be done fast to keep the mackerel stock sustainable for Scottish, Irish and Dutch fishermen.”