The fisheries committee decided to:
- re-introduce a 50kg minimum threshold amount of catch for reporting purposes, meaning that in aggregate huge amounts of unmonitored fish can be removed from the sea across the EU without being covered by logbook reporting requirements. This was not envisioned in the reformed CFP, and will have serious impacts on scientific advice for fisheries management (including quotas) in the coming years.
- provide a two year window for not complying with the landing obligation. This effectively means that fishers who have received subsidies under the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) but do not comply with the landing obligation will not be required to pay these amounts back.
- limit the application of this regulation to 2015 only, meaning that another proposal will be needed next year. This will negatively impact the long-term planning of fishers, including investments and planning security.
The amendments passed with 20 in favour, four against and one abstention.
Although the EU Parliament agreed on a sustainable fishing reform earlier in the year, this vote undermines key elements of the CFP such as the discard ban and ending overfishing.
Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk: “This vote is seriously undermining the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which only came into force a year ago, with the support of millions of citizens. If this position is supported by Council and the European Parliament, it would do away with fully documented fisheries, a level playing field for the compliance with the landing obligation, and a more inclusive definition of unintended catches.”
Speaking before the meeting, ClientEarth lawyer Flaminia Tacconi, said: “The proposed changes are disastrous for European fisheries. They undermine the landing obligation, which is the highlight of this reform. The landing obligation means fish caught will be brought to land and more sustainable fishing limits can be set. This is essential to prevent fish stock collapse and protect our fisheries.”
The committee leader Alain Cadec will now begin negotiations with the EU Fisheries Council.