This morning (Thursday, 20 December), following protracted discussions, EU fisheries Ministers reached an agreement on the setting of fishing quotas for 2013.
Representing the interests of the Welsh fishing industry, the Deputy Minister played an integral part of the UK Delegation at the EU Fisheries Council.
In approaching the negotiations, the UK used three core principles:
Science – making use of all available information and scientific advice in the setting of fishing opportunities.
Sustainability – moving towards Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015, where possible.
Reducing discards – ensuring that quota and effort management decisions support the aim to eliminate discards.
The Deputy Minister said:
“The agreement on fishing quotas represents an important building block in the measures the Welsh Government is putting in place to support a sustainable future for the Welsh fishing industry. That was why I was so committed to representing as strongly as possible the needs of Wales during the negotiations to ensure we got the best possible outcomes for our country; and I believe we have achieved that.
”Negotiating at EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council was inevitably a long process, which required discussions on several levels within Wales, the UK, and with other Member States. I am pleased that the detailed negotiations resulted in continuing fishing opportunities that enable our industry to continue. In particular, I argued strongly against a significant cut proposed by the Commission for underutilised quota.
In the final deal, I have secured fishing opportunities that are much more closely aligned with the science and this has achieved levels close to that of 2012. For stocks that are data deficient – that faced a 20% cut – I negotiated a more modest 5% precautionary reduction to these stocks and a commitment from the Commission that these levels will be fixed for 5 years. This gives greater security to the fishing fleet both now and in the future.
“I want to put on record my sincere thanks to Welsh Government officials who have worked hard throughout these long negotiations to achieve this very good result for Wales. I also want to thank Defra officials and UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, for their active support over the past few days.”