The acting Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has participated in the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union, which has approved a partial general agreement for the regulation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the period 2021 -2027, which includes a large part of the Spanish claims.

During the Council, the European Commission (EC) has also reported on the status of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and fishing opportunities for 2020.

Luis Planas has indicated that the approved text "is a good agreement" to be able to discuss in the trilogues with the European Parliament and the EC, next autumn, and to reach an agreement in the defense of sustainable fishing, both in the European Union and Worldwide.

In this context, Luis Planas has highlighted the efforts made during the last year by the Commission and the Member States to reach consensus on this partial general agreement. In particular, he highlighted the work deployed by the Spanish delegation, which culminated in a joint declaration with France and Italy, which has allowed the package of measures to strengthen the future EMFF.

In this way, the text approved by the Council grants greater capacity for adaptation to the Member States. For the minister, one of the problems of the current operational program of the fund was its lack of flexibility and the excessive legal acquis that complicated its application.

Among the points of the document, Planas has highlighted the exception to the prohibition of individual capacity increase of a ship due to safety issues, working conditions on board, and energy efficiency. The minister has ensured this increase does not mean an increase in the capacity of the fleet, which neither Spain nor any Member State raise, but to improve the living conditions on board the fishermen. For the minister, "we talk about sustainability and the first sustainability is human".

Other noteworthy points are the flexibility introduced in the limit of funding of the compensation grants for the Ultraperipheral Regions (RUP), the continuity of the requirements for shipowners and fishermen in relation to aid for temporary and permanent stops, the possibility to establish new supports for aquaculture and processing, and the generalized increase to 80% with respect to co-financing rates, maintaining 100% co-financing in the compensation measure in the OR.

Quotas and progress of the common fisheries policy

On the other hand, the Council analyzed the communication from the Commission on fishing opportunities for 2020 and the status of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) from the point of view of the situation of the different fishing grounds and their populations, and from the normative point of view.

As explained by the minister, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and quotas for the next should be set at the level of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of the fishing species, except for the Mediterranean that will be governed by a new plan for resources demersal.

Planas recalled that Spain is "fully committed" to the establishment of TACs at the maximum sustainable yield level. In fact, all the fish stocks of interest to the Spanish fleet are already exploited under this objective, one year before the date foreseen by the CFP in 2020.

Likewise, the minister considers it necessary to use all the mechanisms provided by the approved management plans to establish the TACs and quotas. For this reason, Spain has requested that in the species that are part of the mixed fisheries, take into account the whole of the species that form it when considering the fulfillment of the maximum sustainable yield objective.

In any case, Planas understands that the efforts "go in the right direction", since the improvement of the reproductive biomass in 36% shows that the efforts are well directed and that this good biological situation should be transferred to the economy of all the community fleets.

In northwestern waters, Planas has shown Spanish concern about the situation of fisheries that have remained open as by-catch, due to their possible effect as species of strangulation. Spain expects that, in the necessary cases, the agreement reached last December could be renewed, in order to continue allowing the activity of all the fleets in said waters.

In relation to the obligation to disembark, one of the pillars of the CFP, the minister has put in value the additional effort that is being made to fully implement it in 2019, for which intense work is being done in the different regional groups . In this regard, the minister has asked the Commission for flexibility in the delegated acts of discarding to complete the studies that justify the exceptions established.

Conservation measures within the CFP

The minister has also taken part in a debate on the conservation measures planned within the CFP. Planas has pointed out that Spain is aware of the need to reconcile fishing policy with other environmental policies and especially with the directives of habitats and birds. Proof of this was the excellent result of the project LIFE INDEMARES that allowed Spain to propose 39 ZEPAS (Special Bird Protection Areas) and 10 SCI (Places of Community Interest, in marine environment).

Within another LIFE program called INTEMARES, Spain is working with the various actors involved in the development of plans for these new

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