The process is to be provisionally phased out over the next six years. Discarding pelagic fish, such as mackerel and herring, will be phased out by 2012, while the ban on discarding whitefish, such as cod and plaice, will begin 12 months later and will be fully implemented by 2018.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney, who was involved in the 20-hour long negotiations, which ended at 5am yesterday, said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“I very much welcome the agreement reached, which will support a more secure future for our fishermen,” he said. “I hope that this new agreement will be welcomed by both the industry and those campaigning for sustainable management of fish stocks.”
The chairman of the Irish Fishermen’s Organisation, Ed Sheehan, said he is not completely satisfied with the reform’s terms. However, Mr Sheehan said Mr Coveney put up a good fight on their behalf, but no one but fishermen know what the situation is like.
“It is a hard pill to swallow, the way criminality will go from one side to the other overnight,” he said.
Mr Sheehan said he believes fishermen should be allowed a three-month period to break quota and take in as much fish as they can to see how much stock is available.
“I think fishermen would be willing to lose four or five days working days a month to compromise on it,” he said. “Fishermen want a sustainable future in the fishing industry. We are not out to plunder the ocean, but I know that there are no easy answers.”
Mr Sheehan added Mr Coveney inherited the problem and did not start it himself. “Of all the ministers that we have dealt with, Simon Coveney has the better grasp of reality, but I think that he has no idea of the extent of fish that we are talking about.”
Chairwoman of the Federation of Irish Fishermen Eibhlín O’Sullivan also expressed her disappointment at the deal, saying it is a flawed approach. “It would appear that the Council of Ministers have bowed to ill-informed public pressure on this issue.”