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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Accord sur la pêche à Bruxelles

by Gérard Le Puill

Agreement on fishing in Brussels

Translated Monday 28 December 2015, by Adrian Jordan

The marathon negotiation over fishing rights for 2016 lasted two days and several hours into the night. French negotiator, Alain Vidalies, gave us the outlines on 16 December.

Alain Vidalies, secretrary of state for transport, sea and fisheries, said that after two days of negotiation in Brussels between 14 and 15 December, the 28 member states of the European Union and Commission reached an accord over fishing quotas for 2016. He believed they had reached “a balanced agreement, taking account of the objectives of sustainable use of resources while preserving the economic and social viability of the fishing sector”.

According to the information furnished by the secretary of state; for sole from the eastern Channel, where many French boats fish, the drop in quota will be less than 14 percent compared to the 2015 amount, instead of a drop of 32 percent initially proposed by the Commission. In the western Channel, catches may be increased by 15 percent for both sole and cod. In the North Sea, catches of sole will also be increased by 10 percent. They will be up by 15 percent for cod. Catches of herring in the North Sea and eastern Channel will increase by 18 percent.

In the Bay of Biscay, catches of sole will drop by 10 percent in 2016 as opposed to the 37 percent initially proposed by the Commission. Catches of anchovy will remain as in 2015 and catches of hake will increase by 9.5 percent.

In the Celtic Sea - the fishing region which is bounded by the south of Ireland, the headlands of SW Wales and SW England, and the west side of Brittany bordering the Atlantic ocean - France can fish for 13 percent less haddock than in 2015 and 10 percent less cod. Other catches such as saurel and whiting can rise by 25 and 16 percent in these zones.

Limiting catches is a necessary evil if we wish to preserve fish stocks. However, fishing techniques used in Europe, particularly trawling, waste this resource: over-harvesting many unsalable fish which are simply thrown back into the sea - mostly dead after being sorted onboard ship.

In addition, market demands for fresh and frozen fish in Europe guarantee a good price, which leads to European ships raiding fishing areas of poorer countries using agreements between the EU and these countries. These countries deny this precious resource to their own fishers, in exchange for a few subsidies received from big fishing companies in Europe, Russia, China, Korea and Japan.

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