Fisheries : Council Secures Deal on Mediterranean Regulation

Article excerpt

The Finnish EU Presidency has succeeded where predecessors failed, on 21 November, and secured a deal on the Mediterranean Regulation, which sets out management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fish in the Mediterranean Sea.

There were two main outstanding issues which needed to be dealt with by the Council prior to a political agreement being reached, and both required the Finnish Presidency to make changes to the first compromise proposal it put forward at the meeting.

The first of these was a request by several delegations, including France and Italy, that fishermen should be given until January 2009 before new rules on minimum net sizes would enter into force. These new rules will mean the phasing out of current 40 mm diamond mesh nets, and their replacement by either 40 mm square meshed nets, or diamond meshed nets of 50 mm. In the political agreement, the compromise was reached that fishermen can have until July 2008 to comply, as opposed to July 2007 in the first compromise proposal put forward by the Finnish Presidency.

The second issue related to a request from the Italian delegation that it be granted a derogation from a ban contained in the regulation on the use of trawl nets in coastal areas. The draft text foresaw that the use of trawl nets should be banned within 1.5 nautical miles of the coast. Concessions were successfully made to Italy in this regard, and as a result the agreed version of the text grants member states a derogation allowing them to use the nets between 0.7 and 1.5 nautical miles of the coast, subject to certain conditions. These conditions include that sea depth should not be less than 50 metres isobath, that there must be no significant impact on the marine environment, and that the derogation should not cause any increase in fishing effort.

DEFINING DRIFT NETS

There was also a final, more subtle issue that needed to be addressed at Council, relating to the definition of drift nets. In order to clarify several existing regulations, the Commission, on 19 September, published a proposal for a standard definition of what is a drift net, which it plans will be inserted into relevant EU legislation, including existing laws. …