Following the final trilogue meeting between negotiators from the Parliament and the Council, with the Commission, a deal was confirmed on Tuesday that leads to stronger and more competitive producer organisations and that improves labelling of fisheries products to better inform consumers. The regulation for a Common Market Organisation (CMO) for fishery and aquaculture products is a crucial part of the Common Fisheries Policy.

"This was a prime example of how the co-decision process, and a willingness by all sides to find sensible solutions, can result in an excellent deal which promises a good future for the fisheries and aquaculture sector", said Struan Stevenson (ECR, UK), rapporteur for the CMO regulation.

New labelling rules

Consumers need clear and easily understandable information on fisheries and aquaculture products. It has now been agreed that each fishery product must contain the scientific name, the gear type used and a clearer, more specific catch area. In addition, producers have the option to include the date of catch, date of landing and other voluntary details on the label if they felt it would give them a competitive advantage.

Furthermore, the agreement obliges the European Commission to examine options for the introduction of an official EU eco-label scheme.

"I would welcome such a move in order to sweep away the many differing and confusing eco-labels that have emerged over the years; all making competing claims about the sustainability of catches and the eco-friendliness of their products", added Mr Stevenson.

Greater powers for producer organisations

A special focus was set on the future role and objectives of producer organisations (POs). These are set up by fishermen or fish farmers who voluntarily form an association with the aim of implementing measures to ensure optimum conditions for the marketing of their products, and have been introduced as a counter-balance to the power of retailers. They have so far been effective in ensuring realistic prices for the catches landed by their members, but for the future they must be given the correct tools to enable them to regulate the activity of their members more effectively.

"The Council accepted our rewording of the relevant articles so that POs will not only avoid and reduce unwanted catches and make the best use of these catches where necessary but also contribute to the traceability of fishery products and the elimination of IUU fishing practices. They will promote fishery and aquaculture products of their members, encourage vocational training programmes and help improve the selectivity of fishing gears", said the rapporteur Mr Stevenson.

Background information

A Common Market Organisation (CMO) for fisheries and aquaculture products has been in place since 1970. It is a crucial part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and is being reformed at the same time as the CFP basic regulation. The reform should, for example, improve the market position of EU production and enhance the market potential for products as well as support reduction of administrative burden and simplification of the legal framework.

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