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March 13, 2013 4:03 PM
By Deborah Newton Cooke - Liberal Democrat Euro Candidate for the East Midlands
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

There is a lot going on now concerning the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This is a once in a half generation opportunity to stop overfishing, rebuild our fish stocks, and stop the practice of discarding fish. This is when fishermen throw perfectly good fish, dead, back into the sea because they are the wrong fish and not in their quota.

The European Parliament voted on 6 February 2013 in Strasbourg, to clearly support and enforce the European Commission's proposal to radically reform the CFP. Not least for a Total ban on discards. Starting from 2014. Following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty the EP now has an equal say with the Council of Ministers (where our national Ministers sit. Our key Minister is Richard Benyon MP) which now has to negotiate with the EP to reach an agreement.

The Presidency of the Council is currently held by Ireland, and the Irish Fisheries Minister is committed to getting a deal by the end of June. The Irish have a good past record in securing deals in their previous six Presidencies. However, the Minister concerned - Simon Coveney TD - is also negotiating reform of the Common Agricultural Policy at the same time. Good luck to him on both!

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council agreed its position on 26 February on the proposed discards ban. But they gave all sorts of get out clauses. So I have now written to all 27 Fisheries Ministers asking them what their position is on the following:

- to require that ALL fish caught be landed and therefore banning discards from 2014 by fishery, and by 2017 at the latest; the Council agreed to only a reduction in discards from 9% to 7%, being phased in over two years;

- to allow 5% of landed discards to not count towards fishing quotas;

- to agree to multi-annual plans by sea area and fishery on the basis of scientific data, to stop over fishing.

There are many more issues but the bottom line is, is that. If there are no fish, there will be no fisheries industry.

You can follow the debate on #cfpreform #cfpreformwatch.

Our Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies leads for us in the EP. You can read about his work on his website: or follow him on @chrisdaviesmep.

Deborah Newton-Cook