Crucial talks on fisheries policy reform in Brussels

Tuesday 14 May 2013 12.21
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Marine Minister Simon Coveney chairs crucial talks on fisheries reform
Marine Minister Simon Coveney chairs crucial talks on fisheries reform
WWF supporters stage a protest against overfishing in front of the European Union Council building in Brussels
WWF supporters stage a protest against overfishing in front of the European Union Council building in Brussels

Crucial talks get under way in Brussels to try to resolve a looming deadlock between the European Parliament and EU member states over far-reaching reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney is hoping to reach a compromise between the two sides over reforming Europe's fisheries regime.

Mr Coveney is chairing the talks under the Irish presidency of the EU.

The objective is to ensure that both Europe's fish stocks and the fishing industry become sustainable.

Mr Coveney is hoping to secure the substantial elements of a reform of the CFP by the end of the Irish presidency.

The biggest sticking points remain the question of how to deal with discards, and how to ensure that fish stocks can recover.

The European Parliament wants a total ban on discards and a quick end to overfishing, but member states, especially those in southern Europe, are concerned about the effects on fishing communities.

Some elements of the reform of the CFP have already been agreed under the Irish presidency.

But there is still a stand-off between the European Parliament, which has an increased role in fisheries policy under the Lisbon Treaty, and member states.

These include the discards ban and the question of the "maximum sustainable yield", where fishermen are allowed to catch no more than a given stock can reproduce in a given year.

There are also differences over how much member states should be allowed to influence the multi-annual fishing targets and conservations which are proposed by the European Commission.

Mr Coveney will hold talks with all 27 fisheries ministers today to see if he can be given a fresh mandate to start new negotiations with the European Parliament on the issue.

Reforming the CFP has been one of the key priorities of the Irish presidency.