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MEPs delay discard sanctions

The European Parliament has agreed to give fishermen two years to 'adapt' to the new discard ban before sanctions for failing to comply take effect.

"The new rules oblige fishermen to land all fish caught during a fishing trip. It will be extremely difficult to implement, especially for multi-species and artisanal fisheries. Our common concern is to preserve fisheries resources while maintaining a viable economy. The agreement we have found helps mitigate some of the negative effects of the new rules for fishermen", said rapporteur and Fisheries Committee chair Alain Cadec.

Amendments to the original proposal mean that there will now be two-year delay (until 2017) before sanctions for failing to comply with the landing obligation take effect. The European Commission must also draft an annual report on implementation of the requirement to land unwanted catches.

The requirement to stow undersized fish separately by species has been removed, and for small fishermen, the obligation to record the catches in a fishing logbook was limited to catches of a species in excess of 50kg.

The EP says that these rules are urgently needed because the discard ban is already in force (since 1 January 2015), for pelagic species, and the 'landing obligation' regulation is needed to adapt seven current EU laws which conflict with the new rules. The ban is to take effect gradually, in stages, between now and 2019.

The EU Council of Ministers must now formally approve the draft law, after which it will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force on the third day following its publication.

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