Mixed reaction to Europe’s new common fisheries policy

European Parliament must sign off on final deal brokered under Irish presidency

Agreement on an EU fish management policy that copperfastens a ban on discards at sea has edged closer, following 36 hours of negotiations.

Minister for Marine Simon Coveney, who brokered a compromise text, has described the package of measures as facilitating "more sustainable" fishing levels and a "workable" regionalisation policy.

However, there has been mixed reaction to the document, which the European Parliament must sanction before it can be implemented in 2014.

Environmental groups believe it is not radical enough, while the Federation of Irish Fishermen and several Irish MEPs have welcomed much of the content.


However, the federation and Ireland North West MEPs Pat the Cope Gallagher (FF) and Jim Higgins (FG) have expressed disappointment that Ireland's special position under the so-called Hague Preference has not been enshrined in the text.

The preference is a Common Fisheries Policy mechanism designed to adjust national quotas to take account of the needs of fishery-dependent coastal communities here and in Scotland.

Ireland and Britain are constrained from invoking the preference when stocks are seriously depleted.

The mechanism has come under repeated attack from other member states.

Mr Gallagher and Mr Higgins noted that the parliament had voted this year in favour of ensuring the preference as part of the new policy.

The first stage in the phased ban on discarding fish at sea has been put back to 2015, affecting pelagic (mackerel/herring) fleets initially. By 2020, some 97 per cent of stocks will be covered.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times