EUROPE'S fishing industry can now look forward to a future of healthier stocks, more jobs and higher income, EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said at the weekend.
She was commenting after three days of tough negotiations on North Sea, the Atlantic and Black Sea fish quotas by the Council of Ministers which had the remarkable and almost unknown result of leaving British fishermen feeling generally satisfied with the outcome. Even fishing's arch critic and environmentalist Charles Clover wrote in The Sunday Times yesterday, December 23, that history was in the air.
Ms Damanaki said that even though the Commission's proposals were more ambitious this year, she thought the outcome was satisfactory.
"It is a great achievement that we have better scientific advice for fish stocks. We moved from last year's situation, where we had poor stocks data of 61.5 per cent to 15.6 per cent this year. It's a great change. An agreement was achieved to reach sustainable exploitation levels (Maximum Sustainable Yield or MSY) by 2015 for the great majority of the (fish) stocks on which we have scientific advice."
This would leave only four stocks which will not achieve MSY by that date, but they will be 2017. This is being done to avoid discards, she added. Ms Damanaki said: "This is a good message for our fishermen and for our citizens. We can have healthy stocks, more jobs and more income for our coastal communities. It can be done.
"If we have the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in place next year, this will improve the decision making process and the progress made in the European Parliament this week gives us good hope."
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