The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of April 2013 is taking place in Luxemburg today (22 April 2013), under the presidency of Mr Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy
The Council will hold an orientation debate on the proposal for a basic Regulation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Council will also be informed on the state of play of the Proposal for a Regulation on the Common Organisation of the Markets in Fishery and Aquaculture Products.
Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the reform are underway and are dealing with core issues such as Maximum Sustainable Yield, scope and detail of the landing obligation, regionalisation and capacity management, as well as with other outstanding issues such as the rules determining the fixing and distribution of fishing opportunities, the composition of Advisory Councils, Member States' obligation to create fish stock recovery areas and empowerment for the Commission to adopt delegated acts.
Based on a discussion paper prepared by the Presidency, delegations will hold an orientation debate concerning the way to move forward on these issues.
The objective of the reformed fisheries policy is to end overfishing and make fishing sustainable - environmentally, economically and socially. The new policy aims to:
- bring fish stocks back to sustainable levels by setting fishing opportunities based on scientific advice,
- provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term,
- bring new prosperity to the fishing sector, end dependence on subsidies and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas.
Protection of seabirds
Commission Damanaki will present to ministers the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on an "Action Plan for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears".
Scientific evidence has shown that high numbers of seabird species including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers are being caught in fishing gear every year. Measures taken so far to protect seabirds from being entangled in fishing gear have been ineffective.
The Action Plan sets up a management framework to minimise seabird bycatch to the lowest levels practically possible. It focuses on long line and static net fisheries where seabird bycatch are known to be highest, although other gears such as trawls and purse seines are also covered by the plan. It entails a wide range of elements under 30 recommended actions that are a combination of binding and non-binding measures.
The rules will apply to EU fishing vessels inside and outside EU waters as well as non-EU vessels operating in EU waters.