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Brussels, 24 April 2009

Fisheries Council: ministers hold fruitful discussions on a range of issues

Yesterday fisheries ministers met within the Council to discuss a number of issues of importance to Europe's fisheries. The talks proved fruitful and helped to make progress on a number of dossiers.

The ministers welcomed the EU's Action Plan on sharks, presented by Joe Borg, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The plan's objective is to protect species such as sharks, skates and rays and the ecosystems in which they live. The growth in fisheries in recent decades, combined with slow recovery rates, has placed many shark species under threat. The plan, follows on from an EU commitment to reduce the TAC for deep-sea sharks to zero by 2010.

Mr Borg also presented the Commission's Green Paper on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to the Council. Responding briefly to the presentation, Ministers thanked the Commission for its good work on the Green Paper and looked forward to a first detailed exchange of views thereon at the next Fisheries Council in May.

Ministers then moved on to a thorough debate on the Commission's Communication on a strategy to boost the EU's aquaculture sector. They strongly stressed the sector's importance and welcomed the strategy.

The Council also discussed the increasingly prevalent and widespread acts of piracy. The EU has taken swift and decisive action to combat piracy, inter alia through Operation Atalanta. However, fishermen are increasingly being exposed to the threats of piracy. The Commission shared its view with Member States that the relevant Council configurations should draw the necessary consequences and adapt the EU response in order to safeguard the safety of European fishermen in particular in the Indian Ocean region which is most concerned.

Under any other business the Council also held a brief discussion on eels, gillnets and EFF implementation.

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