EUROPEAN Parliament and Commission negotiators have finally paved the way for the long-awaited reform of the discredited Common Fisheries Policy.
The historic deal reached yesterday will place regional decision making and an end to the practice of dumping dead fish back into the sea at the heart of fisheries management.
In an 11th hour compromise, calls for discards to be completely outlawed in European waters by 2019 have been shelved and member states will be allowed to seek an exemption to allow up to 5 per cent of their fleet’s catches to be dumped.
But, in a major boost for the Scottish fishing industry, the negotiators have rubber-stamped plans for an end to fisheries micromanagement by Brussels bureaucrats and a new system of devolved decision-making.
Simon Coveney, the Irish minister for agriculture, food and the marine, who led the negotiations, said the new agreement would “change the lives of millions of people across the European Union” and protect the valuable marine resource in European waters.
He said: “These decisions are really significant and will impact on the sustainability of fishing for future generations.”
Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Commissioner, hailed the agreement as “a historical step for all involved in fisheries and aquaculture”.