Simon Coveney & @Ulrike Rodust secure deal on reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy – ending overfishing by 2015 where possible, 2020 at latest and objective of rebuilding fish stocks


Parliament and Council reach political agreement on basic regulation

At 3:30 in the morning of 30 May, the European Parliament and Council reached political agreement on the main points in the basic regulation in the fisheries reform.

The deal still needs approval of Coreper. There are also several articles where technical details remain to be sorted out.

During the triologues of 28–29 May, which spilled over into the morning of 30 May, the co-legislators have reached agreements on issues such as MSY, discards, the external dimension, access criteria and fleet capacity.

What has actually been agreed? “It is a mess,” a parliament official admitted. Several different wordings have circulated during the trialogue and it will take some time for officials to compile a consolidated version of the agreement.

Some things are clear, though:
* On discards (article 15), the deal is identical to the Council’s new position from 15 May.
* The Parliament got approval for its demand that when distributing fishing opportunities, member states shall use transparent and objective environmental and social criteria, such as the impact of the fishery on the environment, the history of compliance and the contribution to the local economy (article 16).
* In the external dimension of the CFP, EU vessels will now only get access to surplus of fish in third countries and there are new measures to prevent flag hopping, in line with the resolution on the external dimension adopted by the European Parliament in November 2012.
* Parliament got support for new control measures, by establishing a new compliance committee.
* Council also ceded to the Parliament on issues such as article 36 (transparency in fishing fleet register) and article 37 (data requirements).
* On ending overfishing and rebuilding fish stocks (article 2), there is now a target to rebuild fish stocks above biomass levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Somewhat ambiguously, the article does not state explicitly that fishing mortality must be set at levels lower than the corresponding Fmsy. The Council wording remains, that Fmsy shall be applied by 2015 “where possible” and no later than 2020 for all stocks. Parliament got support for a new recital that specifies that those catch levels can be postponed later than 2015 only in cases that would seriously jeopardise the social and economic sustainability of the fishing fleets involved.

This text will be updated with more details on the deal soon.