Fisheries Council: threat of collapse hangs over fisheries reform

NGO media advisory

Press release - May 10, 2013
WHAT? EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council
WHEN? Monday 13 & Tuesday 14 May
WHERE? Brussels, Belgium


[For the final comment on the outcome of the meeting of fisheries ministers, click here.]

Fisheries ministers will meet in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday to revise their position on the reform of EU fishing rules. The reluctance of some countries, including France, Spain and Poland, to find common ground with the Parliament on key issues of the reform is threatening to cause the collapse of negotiations on a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), warned NGOs.

The Parliament’s negotiator, MEP Ulrike Rodust, has signalled that she would be prepared to compromise, but that a significant strengthening of the Council’s position would be needed to broker a deal [1]. On 6 February, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a comprehensive and ambitious overhaul of the CFP to rebuild fish stocks by 2020, promote low-impact fishing, strengthen fleet management and ban discards [2].

NGOs are calling on the Council to back fish stock recovery by 2020, reduce fishing capacity in accordance with agreed guidelines, support financial penalties for countries that fail to implement the rules and abandon loopholes that weaken the proposed discard ban. A breakdown of negotiations would only satisfy the short-term interest of countries that want to avoid new measures to end overfishing, recover fish stocks and rebuild a sustainable fishing sector, said NGOs.

NGO press invite – Monday photo opportunity:


Fisheries Council agenda:



Greenpeace – Mark Breddy: +32 (0)496 156229 -

WWF – Alexandra Bennett: +32 (0)477 393 400 -

Oceana – Angela Pauly: +32 (0)478 03 84 90 -

OCEAN2012 – Mike Walker: +32 (0)476 622575 -

BirdLife Europe – Caroline Jacobsson: +32 (0)478 20 62 84 -



[1] Rodust writes letter to ministers: Parliament is ready to compromise,

[2] Euro MPs back large-scale fishing reform to save stocks,



European Parliament position (6 February 2013)



Council position (26 February 2013)


Stock recovery

Seeks to eliminate overfishing by 2015 to recover fish stocks above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2020 at the latest.

Seeks to eliminate overfishing by 2015 “where possible” and in other cases allow overfishing to continue until 2020; does not include any stock recovery target.


Fleet capacity

Wants member states to:

i) annually report their fishing capacity  by fleet segment, using Commission guidelines to ensure the quality of reporting is improved;

ii) reduce fleet overcapacity.

Subsidy payments should be suspended if a country has failed to comply with the above.

Wants member states to:

i) annually report their fishing capacity by fleet segment. However, rejects the mandatory use of agreed Commission guidelines;

Opposes suspensions of subsidies to countries that have not reported or failed to reduce their fishing capacity.

Low-impact fishing

Promotes low-impact fishing methods, including through preferential access to fishing quotas.

Opposes preferential access for fishermen that use low-impact fishing methods.



Has expressed zero tolerance for discards; wants discard ban to apply to all fish species.

Accepts only a partial discard ban for species governed by a quota or a minimum landing size (which is the case for just 15 per cent of stocks in the Mediterranean); is pushing for major loopholes, including a maximum discarding rate of 7-9 per cent.