Yesterday - Discards vote in the European Parliament's Committee on Fisheries

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04 Dec

The committee voted on amendments to a piece of legislation with interim measures needed now until a new Technical measures regulation has been developed and adopted over coming months.

Cutting from committee press release:

"A ‘quick fix’ pending a comprehensive overhaul of technical measures.

The rules for the discard ban (Article 15 of the new Common Fisheries Policy law) conflict with several EU regulations currently in force. Under the latter, fishermen have to discard any non-marketable catch. This situation is thus at odds with the discard ban, which comes into force on 1st January 2015, and must therefore be remedied. Hence the proposal on the "Landing Obligation", pending a new framework for technical measures. This framework should be tabled by the Commission in 2015 as part of the reform and, over time, facilitate the full implementation of the discard ban as envisaged."

Note: Some of the amendments adopted are highly controversial as they go against the wording or intention of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which aims to put a stop to discards and overfishing.

- Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said:

“Today’s vote is seriously undermining the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which was only came into force a year ago, with the support of millions of citizens. If this position is supported by Council and the European Parliament, it would do away with fully documented fisheries, a level playing field for the compliance with the landing obligation, and a more inclusive definition of unintended catches.”

- The Parliament's Rapporteur Mr Alain Cadec said:

"Implementation of the discard ban is gradual, from 2015 until 2019. This regulation should only be concerned with the urgent issue of implementing the landing obligation for the fisheries concerned in 2015. I have thus proposed that the provisions relating to the other fisheries be deleted. Next year will be a test year for assessing the effects of implementing the discard ban". .. "The discard ban constitutes a major change for fisheries. In order to ensure its successful implementation, fisheries operators should be allowed sufficient flexibility to ensure that this can be done on a gradual basis".

The committee decided, among other things, these changes:

- to re-introduce the 50kg exemption concerning the minimum threshold amount of catch for reporting purposes. This will mean, as is the case today, that huge amounts of unmonitored catches can be removed from the sea across the EU without being covered by logbook reporting requirements.

- a delay of two years before the introduction of a system with penalty points for infringements to the discard ban. (note: This means that fishers who have received subsidies under the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) but don’t comply with the landing obligation will not be required to pay these amounts back).

- the requirement for fishermen to separate out undersized catches in different boxes has been deleted.

- other changes to the original Commission proposal include the introduction of a mechanism to prevent the development of a parallel market for non-marketable catch.

- the application of this ‘omnibus’ regulation is limited to 2015 only, which means that another ‘Omnibus’ proposal will be needed next year as the legislators need minimum 18 months to draft and adopt a new Technical Measures Regulation.

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