The 3108th Council of the European Union meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries took place in Brussels on the 19 July 2011. Minister for Agriculture and Rural development of Poland, Marek Sawicki acted as president.
Discussing the CFP, member states generally welcomed the proposed package for the reform of the CFP. However, some felt that there were still areas of the reform that needed more clarity and/or expansion.
Whilst agreeing with the objective of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), several member states felt that it would be difficult to reach this objective by 2015 and would prefer a more progressive approach.
While the proposal to introduce a system of transferable fishing concessions is generally considered a good basis for further discussion, many member states felt that such a system should be managed at a national level with sufficient safeguards and flexibility.
Regarding the ban on discards, most member states agreed with the objective of promoting sustainable fisheries, but some have noted that the deadline proposed in the package could be too tight to implement efficient measures.
The concept of regionalisation was positively received in general, however its details will have to be further analysed.
A vast majority of delegations acknowledged the importance given to aquaculture in this package, in conformity with the declaration concerning the future role of freshwater aquaculture and inland fisheries within the CFP reform, presented during the agriculture Council in April 2011 (8081/11).
Several member states noted also that the external fishery policy of the EU has been given a specific place in the proposals. Many delegations felt it necessary to provide for special treatment of the small scale coastal fleet segments.
Moving on to the cod TAC, the Council were briefed by the French and the Irish delegation.
France and Ireland noted that the most recent scientific advice from ICES (International council for exploration of the seas) states that the abundance of cod in the Celtic Sea (ICES Area VIIb, VIIc, VIIe-k) has increased as a consequence of an exceptionally strong 2009.
However, this exceptional situation was not taken into account for the existing TAC established last year for 2011 and adopted at the fisheries Council of December 2010.
This TAC is set at around half the level advised by ICES in its current forecast for June 2011. Considering the difficulties met by the fishermen to manage this TAC in mixed fisheries where cod is caught together with other fish, France and Ireland would like to have an in-year revision of the 2011 TAC: an increase in the level of this TAC would mean less discards of cod in the Celtic Sea.
Some member states supported this request. The Commission will assess the elements provided by France and Ireland but insisted on the fact that any increase of a TAC would have to come with safeguard clauses ensuring that there is no negative effects on the other fish caught in the same area.