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Leading MEP rejects Council bid to weaken fish discard ban

Allowing fishing vessels to discard up to 9% of their total catch from 2014, and up to 7% from 2018, as agreed by EU fisheries ministers on Wednesday, would be "not an exemption, but a loophole". Parliament is unlikely to agree to it, predicted Common Fisheries Policy rapporteur Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE). Parliament voted in February for a strict discard ban, without any exemptions.

"This exemption is not an exemption but a loophole. Some Member States simply do not want any changes for their fishermen. I do not expect the Parliament to agree to this in the upcoming negotiations", said Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE), Parliament's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rapporteur.

The Council adopted on Wednesday morning a second general approach on the proposal for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), exactly three weeks after Parliament's plenary vote.

The ban on discards - fish thrown back, usually because they are of an unwanted species or size - is a central element of the reform of the CFP. Discards account for almost a quarter of total EU catches. Most of the discarded species die. To end this wasteful practice, MEPs voted to oblige fishing vessels to land all catches in accordance with a schedule of specific dates for different fisheries, starting from 2014.

Parliament and Council now have to agree on a compromise in three-way negotiations with the European Commission, before a second reading vote. The Irish Presidency of the Council has repeatedly said it hopes to achieve an agreement at the end of June. The new CFP is supposed to apply from 1 January, 2014.

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