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MCS broadly welcomes crucial reforms to CFP

The negotiations have been long and hard, finally ending in the early hours of 30th May 2013. However, the ambition of the Parliament and leading Ministers has pushed through some crucial reforms in this long awaited update of the Common Fisheries Policy.

We think these reforms offer hope for the future of our fish and fisheries. The hard work of MEPs, Ministers, NGOs and fishermen has paid off and we are taking the first steps to ensuring that sustainable fish is available in the EU long into the future.

Congratulations to everyone who has made this historic change happen, particularly the UK's Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies MEP and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP.

Agreement has been reached to rebuild fish stocks, to set legally binding targets to stop overfishing and to reduce by-catch and discards. The requirement for member states to use transparent and objective environmental and social criteria -such as the impact of fishing methods on the environment, the history of compliance and the contribution to the local economy when distributing fishing opportunities - is a fundamental step to rewarding good practice in our fisheries.

There are lots of details still to be ironed out in the technical measures, and of course some areas we had hoped would be stronger. With regards to discards for instance, the devil will be in the detail. In line with the Council's proposal a 5% discard allowance will be made in certain circumstances. But the current wording may mean that you can actually discard a lot more than 5% of one species (or group of species) in a given fishery as long as you discard less in another - thus weakening the incentives to improve the selectivity of those fisheries with the highest discard rates.  

All in all though, this is a huge first step towards securing the future of our seas and the communities that depend on them.

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