The Government has secured another major step towards fundamental reform of the broken Common Fisheries Policy today following agreement on the future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
Following a day and a night of lengthy negotiations in Luxembourg, UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon played a pivotal role in brokering a preliminary agreement, which will fund radical changes to the Common Fisheries Policy through the EMFF.
This agreement will allow funding to be used to support measures such as paying for more selective catching gear that will contribute to eliminating discards, or to fund innovative research projects to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the fishing industry.
UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said:
“I came to Luxembourg determined to ensure that UK fishermen and taxpayers get the best possible deal from these important negotiations. I am delighted that the Council has agreed to allocate the vast majority of the new EU funding stream towards implementing CFP reform.
“The priority for me has always been to make the changes that will be so vital for a reformed Common Fisheries a reality, and this outcome signifies a major step towards that vision. We are moving ever closer to the UK goal of being able to create healthy fish stocks, a prosperous fishing industry and a healthy marine environment.”
Under the current arrangements funding has been channelled into measures which have increased fishing capacity and led to widespread overfishing. It has also led to unsustainable practices such as the discarding of perfectly edible fish.
The new proposal puts safeguards in place to prevent this. Funding will now be directed towards delivering a reduced capacity in the fisheries sector, providing support to fishing communities and managing the transition to a sustainable fisheries policy.
The European Commission published its proposals for the EMFF on 2 December 2011, as part of its package on reform of the CFP. In addition to three discussions on the EMFF in Council, negotiations have taken place at official level in working party meetings since January.