New CFP takes big step forward –

New CFP takes big step forward Published:  15 May, 2013

Mechanisms to deliver important aspects of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) have been thrashed out by the European Fishing Ministers.

Covering important areas such as the discard ban and regionalisation – and following input from the European Parliament – the details agreed are crucial to the new CFP being workable and giving the flexibility needed to deliver a better future for Scotland’s fishing industry.

Speaking immediately after EU Council in Brussels, where the detail of key elements of CFP reform were agreed overnight, Scotland’s Fishing Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We are getting very close to the finish line on CFP reform and it’s vitally important Member States – and the European Parliament – don’t drop the baton now.

“Tonight’s negotiations were focussed on agreeing details to ensure the new CFP can deliver for our seas and our fishing communities.

“Without workable measures to deliver improvement the notorious policy would continue to fail, and while the deal is by no means perfect given the constraints Scotland is under, the agreement reached is a significant step forward.

“For decades we have fought to bring more control over our fishing sector out of Brussels to local fisheries. The regionalisation deal which has been agreed will allow a degree of decision making to be brought back from Brussels.

“It was very important to ensure council stuck with the agreed general approach on regionalisation, ensuring high level management plans are developed which leave enough flexibility for the detail to be agreed local to each fishery. Without such a regional approach, the ambitious objectives we are setting ourselves will prove very difficult to achieve.

“The other key plank in discussions was ensuring that after securing a historic agreement in February to finally end the dreadful practice of discards, we worked out the details of how the discard ban will operate. It was crucial – and very challenging – to get all Member States to agree to the implementation of ambitious and enforceable landing obligations.

“The deal now goes back to the Parliament to be agreed through the trilogue process and I hope that MEPs don’t flinch – the bottom line is a tough but workable discard ban is crucial to protecting fish stocks and decentralisation of the hugely damaging one size fits all CFP is crucial to protecting the future of the Scottish fishing fleet.

“Scotland is no friend of the disastrous CFP but even though too much power will still remain in Brussels, it can’t be denied that after several decades of failure an agreement to introduce more regional decision making and to tackle discards are fundamental improvements.”