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Agriculture and Fisheries Council to Discuss Fishing Opportunities

Sustainability Politics

EU - The Agriculture and Fisheries Council are set to meet today (16 July) in Brussels, under the Presidency of Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment Mr Sofoclis Aletraris.

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The Commission will be represented by Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli and Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.

The meeting will start with a presentation by the Presidency of its work programme. There will then be two "public" debates on aspects relating to CAP reform, and a formal discussion of animal welfare issue(s) and the Any Other Business points until roughly 16:30, when the Council will turn to fisheries issues.

A press conference will be held at the end of the meeting foreseen for roughly 18:30.

Commissioner Damanaki will present to ministers the Commission's Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013 and an exchange of views will follow. In this annual consultation document, the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year.

The Commission's approach for 2013 is that for stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force. For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015 - or earlier, wherever possible. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.

The Commission notes that the state of fish stocks in has improved over the last years. In the northeast Atlantic and nearby seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 94 per cent to 47 per cent. In the Mediterranean, sufficient data exists for 63 per cent of stocks. Out of these, 80 per cent are overfished.

Equally, the science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. Whereas in 2009 57 stocks subject to TACs in the northeast Atlantic were without scientific advice, a drastic improvement in 2012 to possibly as little as 10 to 12 stocks is expected. The Commission thereby reaffirms that it is committed to propose fishing levels based on scientific analysis and with the deadline of 2015 for phasing out overfishing, as spelled out in the proposal for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Ireland has requested an AOB discussion on mackerel.