The reason for concern is that political negotiations have hit a deadlock: the European Parliament endorsed a far-reaching overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 507 to 137 votes in February, whilst the Council on the other hand, has been unwilling to propose any kind of acceptable compromise.
NGOs said: “Time is running out and there is a real danger the reform process may stall or worse still collapse, if Fisheries Ministers continue playing chicken. Ministers are not being asked to do the impossible; many fishing nations outside Europe have outlawed overfishing and worked to rebuild their fish stocks.”
Since the trilogue negotiations started, the Parliament’s negotiator, MEP, Ulrike Rodust, has signalled that she would be prepared to compromise, but that a significant strengthening of the Council’s position would be needed to broker a deal. However the reluctance of some countries, including France, Spain and Poland, to find common ground with the Parliament on key issues of the reform is threatening the negotiations.
“We are calling on the fisheries ministers to back fish stock recovery by 2020, reduce fishing capacity in accordance with agreed guidelines and support financial penalties for countries that fail to implement agreed rules and abandon loopholes that weaken the proposed discard ban”, said the NGOs
“Sustainable fishing is possible but governments need to reform the rules to stop destructive overfishing. The low impact fishing that we practice is the future”, said Gerry de Ruiter – a Dutch fisherman from LIFE, a new network of Low Impact Fishermen in Europe.
"For the first time ever, Europe and its politicians recognise the importance of artisanal fisheries; and artisanal fishermen support the proposed reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, even if it not a perfect one. If nothing is done to stop overfishing, careers linked to artisanal fisheries will likely disappear, which would be disastrous for our fishing activity and jobs. Artisanal fisheries represent 80 per cent of fisheries and the majority of fishing jobs in Europe", said Christian Decugis, a fisherman from the South of France and a founding member of “MEDARNET”, a Mediterranean artisanal fishermens platform.
The European Commission and Parliament, as well as millions of EU citizens, fishermen, businesses and chefs who rely on healthy fisheries, support this reform and want to see an end to the misuse of taxpayers’ money and improvements in enforcement and fisheries control.
Commenting on the ongoing negotiations, Commissioner Damanaki stated: "Substantial progress has been made in the negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for a reformed common fisheries policy.
"The European Union is on the doorstep of a historical deal that would put fish stocks on the road to recovery, eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding and ensure that decisions are taken as close as possible to fishermen.
"It is the responsibility of all institutions not to jeopardise a final deal because of disagreements over a few percentage points, one or two years, detailed technical rules or institutional power struggle. It is now time for both the European Parliament and the Council to make that extra final step towards each other that is necessary to come to a final agreement that will launch a new era of healthy fish stocks, viable fishing industries and more and better paid jobs for fishermen."