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Brussels, 23 June 2009

Commission welcomes positive Fisheries Council conclusions

The European Commission welcomes the results of this morning's Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg, at which Council conclusions on sustainable development of EU aquaculture were adopted. Council's support for the Commission's strategy will provide new political impetus for the sustainable development of the sector.

Also under discussion was the proposed new control framework for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), on which Council held an in-depth political debate. This has helped the Commission to better understand the different positions among the Member States on some of the more sensitive elements of the proposal, including the harmonisation of sanctions, the allocation of powers between the different actors involved, including the Commission and the Control Agency and the cost-effectiveness and administrative burden involved in adopting new on-board technologies. The Commission identified a number of points where it is happy to move in the direction of Member States' requests, including the need for a special regime for the small-scale fleet below 12 metres.

Ministers also discussed the Commission's consultation paper on fishing opportunities for 2010. Despite some good news, such as Baltic cod, the state of EU fish stocks continues to be dire, and TACs continue to be set well above the level which scientists consider sustainable. The underlying drivers for this will have to be addressed in the context of the next Reform of the CFP. In the meantime, the Commission will continue to follow the rules it has developed and refined over recent years. Measures to reduce discards remain high on the Commission's agenda.

The Commission also presented a summary of its work over the last three years to simplify the CFP, including the repealing of a number of obsolete legal acts, and the recasting of the Commission Regulation on the Common Market Organisation in fisheries and aquaculture products.

Finally, Commissioner Joe Borg updated Council on the 2009 fishing season for bluefin tuna and commended Member States on their positive action so far to ensure that the recovery plan is implemented. He welcomed the steps already taken by Member States to reduce overcapacity in the tuna fleet, and urged them to take further measures by 2010 as required by the recovery plan. The Commission and the Community Fisheries Control Agency will continue to implement the 2009 specific control and inspection programme, to ensure that there is no overfishing this year.

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