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Fisheries Council

Volume 227: debated on Monday 28 June 1993

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 24 June.

I represented the United Kingdom at the Council of EC Fisheries Ministers on 24 and 25 June, together with My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.The main decision taken at this meeting was on an improved system of control and enforcement of the common fisheries policy. I was determined to encourage the development of a Community-wide control regime that would address British fishing industry concerns to ensure that the control of the CFP was being undertaken uniformly and rigorously across the Community. This measure will open the way to greater transparency of control measures and give the industry more access to information on how the enforcement of the CFP is being managed throughout the Community.The regulation will require member states to have monitoring and control systems for ensuring compliance with quota, conservation, structural and market measures. It will give greater powers to the Commission to supervise member states' application of the rules through their own inspectorates, and remove the previous bar on unannounced visits by Commission inspectors. Member states will be obliged to demonstrate that they have systems for penalising those found to be in breach of the rules. There is provision for future decisions to be taken on the introduction of continuous monitoring systems, including satellite surveillance, for fishing vessels. The regulation will come into force on 1 January 1994. While welcoming these developments, I made my agreement subject to seeing the text of the regulation, which is now being finalised for early adoption.The Commission is required to make proposals, for decision by the Council before the end of 1993, on the application of the Act of Accession of Spain and Portugal. The Council considered a report on the way the rules applying to Spain and Portugal have functioned to date. I set out forcefully the interests of Britain's fishermen in this matter and secured agreement that the Commission would make its proposals in a way which fully respects the reform of the CFP agreed last December, the improved Community control system approved at the present Council, and the principle of relative stability. The Council agreed that any increase in fishing effort must be avoided.The Council debated the present situation in the Community market for fishery products. The Commission and a majority of member states argued that the weakness of the market necessitated retention of the minimum import price and safeguard mechanisms which have been in force since February. I pointed out that the fundamental problem was one of over supply, and called for fuller analysis. The Commission will now provide a report for the next meeting of the Council in October. Meanwhile the Council decided that the current arrangements to protect the market should be kept in place until October.The Council discussed proposed fishing agreements with Canada and Argentina and the possibility of negotiating an agreement with the Russian Federation. it was not possible at this Council to reach final agreement on any of these matters.