In my capacity as President of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers, I chaired all of the Council of Ministers meetings which took place during the Irish Presidency. As Minister with responsibility for sea fisheries in Ireland, I directed and co-ordinated the Irish position on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and other issues that were considered by Council.
The Irish Government were also represented during this time by experienced senior officials from both my own Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The reforms agreed under the new CFP, secured after many months of complex negotiations with the European Parliament, represent a significant achievement for the Irish EU Presidency team and will be of great benefit in securing a more stable, profitable and secure future for our fishermen and coastal communities dependant on fishing.
The reform of the CFP will support the rebuilding of fish stocks in our waters as Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas are set to deliver maximum sustainable yield by 2015, where possible and by 2020 for all stocks and the wasteful practice of discarding fish is phased out. The reform will also, for the first time facilitate real and meaningful regional decision making under the CFP and will give stakeholders a greater say in how their fisheries are managed. The changes once implemented will mean, real, meaningful reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will determine European fisheries policy for the next decade and beyond.