EU fisheries ministers fall short of full discards ban

Press release - February 27, 2013
Brussels – EU fisheries ministers have agreed a proposal for limited restrictions on discards - the practice of throwing unwanted dead fish overboard. The Irish EU presidency will now have to negotiate a full reform of fisheries policy with the European Parliament, which voted earlier this month for a stricter ban on discards and sweeping changes to make fishing more sustainable [1].

Ministers resisted attempts by Spain, Portugal and France for further loopholes on discards, including a blanket exemption for certain fish species, but caved in to allow 7-9% discards to be tolerated. Ministers want a phased in reduction of discards to begin in 2014, starting with fish like mackerel and herring and later other species in Europe’s northern waters and ending in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Reacting to the outcome of the fisheries ministers' meeting, Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: "The exemption of certain fish species called for by Spain, Portugal and France was avoided, but ministers are backing a partial ban at best. It's not a ban if you allow thousands of tonnes of fish to continue to be wasted for years to come. This half-hearted approach would also make it harder to monitor and implement a ban. It is, however, encouraging that a growing number of countries are joining the European Parliament's call for a far-reaching reform of EU fisheries to stop waste and encourage sustainable practices. Negotiations over the coming months will be tough."

The Irish EU presidency has promised to wrap up negotiations on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy by June.

Note to editors:
[1] Greenpeace press release, 6 February 2013.

Saskia Richartz – Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director: +32 (0)495 290028,
Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications: +32 (0)496 156229,

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