Brussels - In an unprecedented move, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee has today voted to seriously weaken central provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy. 

The committee voted on amendments to a series of existing laws, the so-called Omnibus regulation, intended to deal with technical details of the new CFP. Normally this should merely harmonise new policies with existing ones. However, with these amendments, the regulation will now undermine central measures of the CFP that would have ensured the end of the wasteful practice of discarding perfectly edible caught fish back into the sea. 

The 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 don’t comply with the landing obligation will not be required to pay these amounts back – this was also not the intention of the reformed CFP.

- 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.

Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk: “Today’s vote is seriously undermining the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which was 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.”

Because a political agreement is needed before 1st January, the rapporteur, Alain Cadec MEP, requested and received a mandate to start immediate negotiations with the Council. If an agreement is reached early, these basic rules will be communicated to Member States and control authorities to provide legal clarity for all stakeholders.

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