After months of wrangling between EU institutions, a new Common Fisheries Policy – which includes a ban on discards – has been agreed.

Key elements of the new policy include fish stocks being managed at their maximum sustainable yield, a commitment to develop and strengthen biologically sensitive areas and protection against the privatisation of fishing quotas. Agreement was reached in the early hours of this morning.

Discards had been one of the most contentious and difficult elements to agree, given the many different perspectives on how such a ban would work in practice, said Irish agriculture minister Simon Coveney, who is currently president of the Council of the EU. “What we have agreed this morning is to deliver a new fishing policy which strives to restore our fish stocks and protect the fishermen and communities which depend on fishing for their livelihoods.”

The CFP reform was a powerful driver for growth and jobs, at a time when Europe most needed it, said EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki. “The next step, for me, is to take the same proactive attitude towards the implementation of the reforms, to make sure that they are a success for the industry, for our citizens and for Europe’s economy.”

The new CFP would also ensure better on-pack information is provided to consumers and decision making will be more regionalised rather than micro-managed from Brussels, she added. 

EU politicians paid tribute to campaigns such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight, which they said had played an important role in bringing issues such as discards to the public’s attention and putting pressure on politicians to find a solutions.

The agreement has been reached between the Irish Presidency (representing the interests of the Council of Ministers), The European Parliament and the European Commission. It will now go to the Committee of Permanent Representatives for final approval.