Council tables weak deal on EU fisheries reform

UPDATE – adds detail and new quote

Press release - May 15, 2013
Brussels – Another marathon session of negotiations on the reform of EU legislation on fisheries has ended in disappointment, said Greenpeace. The ministers have been meeting in Council since Monday to revise their position on the main points of the reform before going into final negotiations with the European Parliament.

A local fishermen flotilla accompanies the Arctic Sunrise on its arrival in Denia, Spain. Greenpeace is on a European journey in support of sustainable fishing, to meet with local representatives from the growing movement and to support the reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy.

Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: “The brakes are on so tight that it’s taken months of intense talks for ministers to move just a fraction. The deal submitted today still lacks the determination needed to turn things around for Europe’s fish stocks and fishing communities, but it just about keeps the door open for final negotiations with the European Parliament. Only leadership from the parliament, which has great political and public support behind it, can now steer the reform safely home.”

Main opposition to reform came from Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Belgium. These countries in particular objected to a target date for the recovery of Europe’s overfished stocks and insisted for loopholes to be worked into a partial ban on discards. The German minister repeatedly pushed for a better deal, while Sweden was the only country to refuse to sign up to the Council position because of a lack of ambition.

The European Parliament and its negotiator, centre-left MEP Ulrike Rodust, will need to decide whether to continue negotiations on the basis of the Council’s position. Unless ministers are willing to compromise, negotiations will be thrown off course and threaten the chances of reforming fisheries rules in 2013.

In a vote in February, the Parliament overwhelmingly supported an overhaul of the rules which have led to decades of overfishing and a decline of the European fishing industry [1]. On the other hand, EU ministers – in particular from large fishing nations – have resisted reforms [2].                                                                                                                                             

Greenpeace supports a target for fish stock recovery by 2020, a trimming of the fishing fleet to sustainable levels, financial penalties for countries that fail to implement the rules, and a strict ban on the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish.

Note to editors:

[1] According to the European Commission, around two thirds of European fish stocks are currently fished beyond sustainable levels (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52012DC0278:EN:NOT), while one third of European fishing jobs have been lost in the last decade (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SPLIT_SEC:2011:0891%2851%29:FIN:EN:PDF).

[2] Joint NGO statement, Fisheries Council: threat of collapse hangs over fisheries reform: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2013/threat-of-collapse-hangs-over-fisheries-reform

Contacts:

Saskia Richartz – Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director: +32 (0)495 290028,

Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications: +32 (0)496 156229,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs, follow: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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