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David Lidington

Minister for Europe, London

Part of FCDO Outreach

20th June 2012 London, UK

UK secures improvements to EU fishing policy

Last week the UK secured agreement from EU Fisheries Ministers on much needed reforms to the broken Common Fisheries Policy. Following 24 hours of tense negotiations at the EU Fisheries Council held in Luxemburg, Ministers agreed to end ineffective micro-management by Brussels and to a ban on the discarding of dead fish – an issue that has rightly caused public outrage.

My colleague, Richard Benyon ― Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries ― represented the UK at the meeting, along with colleagues from Scotland and Wales. Their aim was to achieve fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: to achieve healthy fish stocks, a prosperous fishing industry and a healthy marine environment.

Securing agreement in principle to a ban on discards is a major achievement to end a wasteful practice. We now need to keep up the pressure in Europe and push for firm dates for the ban to take effect.

Moving powers away from Brussels so that Member States can work together to develop regional fisheries management plans is also a key achievement that has been a priority for the Government. After the meeting, Richard commented that “for far too long overly detailed decisions have been taken from Brussels and fishermen throughout Europe have been micro-managed”.  The agreement secured by the UK and likeminded Member States will see some of that power returned back to Member States who are better able to manage their fisheries at the local level.

Fisheries Ministers also agreed to legally binding limits on fishing levels. These limits will replace the previous process of less rigid political agreements. The new system will ensure that scientific advice is taken into account when setting annual fishing quotas. We will now be better placed to reach Maximum Sustainable Yields ― the largest catches that can be taken from fisheries stocks without diminishing the population size in the long term ― as soon as possible.

The reforms negotiated in Council now need to be agreed by the European Parliament. Our diplomatic efforts will now focus on ensuring that the Parliament endorses this package of reforms.

Fair and effective multi-national management of fisheries in the seas off Europe is essential for the conservation of fish stock. Fish do not observe national maritime borders and one country’s overfishing can severely deplete stock for another nation’s fishermen. This negotiation has shown how the UK can work successfully with European partners to deliver significant reforms that benefit our country.

About David Lidington

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010. David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member…

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010.
David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member of Parliament for Aylesbury.
He worked for BP and RTZ before spending three years as Special Advisor to Douglas Hurd in the Home Office and Foreign Office.
His proudest political achievement was successfully promoting a
Private Members Bill which became the Chiropractors Act in 1994. He
believes that this piece of legislation has made a real difference to
many people’s lives.
He has a long standing passion for history, and has twice captained a
champion team on University Challenge, first in 1979 and then in 2002
when the Sidney Sussex team became “champion of champions” in University
Challenge Reunited.
He is married to Helen Lidington and has four sons.