This article is part of our special report Agriculture.
EU fishery ministers on Monday met in Brussels to resume talks on annual fish quotas. As one of the main priorities of the Irish presidency, ministers hope to reach an agreement on the amount of fish members states can catch before the end of the presidency.
“If this schedule is going trough then at the end of the Irish Presidency we can have an agreement on a new fisheries policy which can be sustainable but also profitable for our sector creating more growth and jobs”, said EU commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.
Aiming at protecting the endangered fish stock of the European seas, the Commission also wants to ban fish discards. Strict EU quotas on the amount of fish a boat may land can force fisherman to throw back into the sea edible but less valuable species. But some member states oppose the idea.
“For the first time a discard ban will be a reality so I’m looking forward to finalize all the arrangements. We have realized that we need to go for, having in mind that regionalization has to be in progress here so we are giving our member states a possibility to chose their own ways to control the discard ban and also to go for new selectivity measures, very important avoidance measures; this is also very important for our policy”, said EU commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.
Disagreements over the amount of fish Norway and Iceland can catch have also raised tensions between the non-EU countries and the Union. Only last Friday, Iceland’s president said that the EU fisheries policy is a “colossal failure”.
“To build a strong alliance with Norway is very important for the region; it can stabilize the fishery sector and the fishery policy in a sustainable way of doing things and also it gives us the power to bring everybody on the table of negotiations which is a preferable solution to have a real costal agreements by all concerned countries around including Iceland and Faroe Islands”, said EU commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.
According to Greenpeace, around 80 percent of Mediterranean stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic stocks are overfished.
The European Union has the third largest fisheries sector in the world. Europe’s leading fishing nations are Spain, France, Britain and Denmark, which jointly account for about half of all EU catches.