A reformed Common fisheries Policy took effect from 1 January 2014 following on from several years of negotiation. The key reforms to the CFP, include a phased in ban on discarding fish (effective as of 1 January 2015); a legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels; and increasingly decentralised decision making, taking place at regional rather than pan-European level.

Common Fisheries Policy reform (2014-2020)

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is a set of rules for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stocks. Designed to manage a common resource, it gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds and allows fishermen to compete fairly. Beginning in 2009, negotiations over reform of the CFP have taken place. In December 2013, the European Commission’s proposed reforms were adopted, with phased implementation taking place from 1 January 2014 through to 2020. The agreement included:

  • A ban on the wasteful practice of discarding perfectly edible fish (effective as of 1 January 2015);
  • A legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels (the Maximum Sustainable Yield where possible from 2015 and everywhere by 2020); and
  • Decentralised decision making, allowing Member States to agree the measures appropriate to their fisheries.

Implementing reforms

On 31 March 2014, the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, announced to Parliament a package of public consultations concerning the implementation of reforms to the CFP. The consultations ran from 31 March to 12 May 2014 seeking views on three aspects of the CFP:

Discard ban

On 1 January 2015, a significant change to the way in which fisheries are managed in the EU took effect with the phased introduction of a landing obligation, which prohibits the discarding of fish, (also known as a discard ban), for all pelagic fisheries.

For more information on the phased introduction of a discard ban (landing obligation), for all pelagic fisheries, please see the annex: Ending fish discards: Implementing the fish-landing obligation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).


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