Commenting on the Fisheries Reform agreement reached in the Council, Gabriel Mato MEP, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, underlined that this is a real opportunity to reach a final agreement: "But all the parties have to be flexible in order to find a common position. This is a unique chance that we should not waste. I think this is a reasonable proposal to start negotiations."

Maria do Céu Patrão Neves, a Portuguese EPP Group Member of the Fisheries Committee, welcomed the negotiating mandate obtained at the Council meeting with cautious optimism: "In general, the Council's views are more balanced, realistic and practical, meeting the concerns and hopes of the fisheries sector."

Regarding the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), Patrão Neves said: "The exploitation of resources to levels compatible with the achievement of the MSY is an objective shared by all, but it should safeguard a realistic timeframe, so I agree with this proposal that establishes levels of fishing mortality that permit the required biomass levels that allow resources to be exploited and simultaneously accomplish the MSY by 2020."

"I also welcome the possibility of returning a percentage of unwanted catches up to the full implementation of the ban discards, and postponing the entry-into-force of this measure in early 2015 for fisheries targeting small pelagics. This will introduce some pragmatism and flexibility in this area, allowing a more gradual adaptation by the operators, particularly in terms of multi-species fisheries."

Patrão Neves concluded: "The Council has established a better balance between the environmental, social and economic pillars of the Common Fisheries Policy, revising the conservational base line suggested by the European Parliament."

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 269 Members and 3 Croatian Observer Members.

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