Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Common Fisheries Policy Reform
18. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will report on the operation of the change in the Common Fisheries Policy concerning the move towards a more regionalised decision making structure, which it is hoped will be more responsive and reflective of the needs of coastal communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26098/15]
The new Common Fisheries Policy negotiated to conclusion during the Irish Presidency of the EU, included a number of radical changes that I believe will be to the long term benefit of coastal communities in Ireland and throughout Europe including a discards ban and a commitment to set quotas in line with scientific advice.
One of the other key changes is the introduction of Regional decision making. Simply put, this provides that Member States in a region will work together to develop measures appropriate for the region. The Member States work with the stakeholders through the new Advisory Councils to devise and implement measures that work for the types of fisheries in the region. The process provides that there must be a unanimous agreement among the regional Member States before a recommendation is submitted to the Commission for adoption.
The Regulation provides that Member States in the region having a direct management interest affected by the planned measures co-operate with one another in formulating joint recommendations. In all cases, the Member States must consult the Advisory Councils, involving the fishing industry and other stakeholders, to hear and understand their concerns and consider any suggestions. The possible measures cover technical and conservation measures to protect juvenile fish and vulnerable fish species and the roll out of the Discards ban over the period to 2019. This is a big change as up to now decision making was fully centralised in Brussels and even decisions relating to technical issues required a lengthy decision making process involving the Commission, the Fisheries Council and the European Parliament.
We have already seen the tangible benefits of this regional policy with the development of regional plans for reducing and eliminating the wasteful practice of discards. Ireland is an active member of the North Western Waters Regional Group of Member States along with Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
This group has, to date, succeeded in finding unanimous agreement on two separate plans to reduce discards that take real account of the interests of the relevant Member States and of the stakeholders through the role of the Advisory Councils. Regionalisation is not just about discard plans, however, and in the coming months and years a wide range of issues of direct relevance to Ireland’s coastal communities dependent upon fishing will be decided at regional level.