EU ministers agree to overhaul fish dumping policy in bid to revive stocks

Greenpeace warn watered down proposals threaten the chances of reforming rules

Brussels

European Union ministers have agreed to overhaul the bloc's fishing policy, but campaigners warned that the most ambitious aspects of the plan were under threat after member states watered down key proposals aimed at reviving stocks after decades of overfishing.

Environmental groups had in February hailed a vote at the European Parliament, which approved a raft of radical reforms including a blanket ban on discards, the controversial policy of tossing dead fish back in the sea if a fleet exceeds its quota.

But while EU fisheries ministers emerged on Wednesday after 36 hours of talks with a commitment to reforming the Common Fisheries Policy (CAP), they only agreed a partial ban on discards. They also refused to set a date for the restoration of fish stocks, a key demand of MEPs and campaigners.

The member states will now take their counter-proposals back to the European Parliament and try and reach a compromise. But the MEPs could refuse to back the proposals, extending what has already been three years of gruelling negotiations.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, warned in a statement that unless EU ministers were willing to budge on some aspects of the reform, the whole plan “will be thrown off course and threaten the chances of reforming fisheries rules in 2013”.

Ulrike Rodust, the European Parliament's chief negotiator, said they would examine the proposals ahead of the next round of negotiations at the end of this month.

"Ministers have made certain concessions but I would have liked to see a more courageous decision," she said. “I hope that we can come to an agreement... but I cannot guarantee that. This reform is too important for the environment and for the fishermen and therefore cannot be rushed."

About 80 per cent of Mediterranean stocks and 47 per cent of Atlantic stocks are overfished after decades of plunder by industrial fleets working under rules devised in the 1970s. Discards have been particularly divisive. The practice allows fleets to net quantities of fish exceeding their quota, then simply throw any unwanted dead fish overboard.

MEPs wanted a complete ban on discards starting from 2014, but the minsters yesterday agreed to a phased ban from 2015, while still allowing 5 per cent of the catch to be discarded.

“If implemented as such, poor management of our fish stocks and the knock on effect it has on our seas is likely to continue for yet another decade,” said Helen McLachlan, fisheries programme manager at WWF-UK

Some nations with large fishing industries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece had resisted any reform, and the British fisheries minister, Richard Benyon, said it was a step forward that those nations had budged at all. “Although it is not as ambitious as I would have liked, we have stuck to our key principles,” Mr Benyon said.

Other measures agreed include new limits on catches and the transfer of decision-making powers from Brussels to national fishing organisations.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the British chef leading the Fish Fight campaign to revive fish stocks, said he hoped that the EU member states would move closer to the position of the parliament in the last stages of the negotiations.

“Hopefully it will be signed and sealed shortly so we can replace the current broken system as soon as possible,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us