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Baroness Hayman: My right honourable friend the Minister represented the UK at the Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels on 14 December, accompanied by Ross Finnie, Minister for Rural Affairs in the Scottish Executive.
The Council agreed to postpone for 12 months the introduction of compulsory labelling of beef in the light of evidence that the majority of member states would be unable to guarantee the integrity of such labels. Only France voted against. The precise legal form of the measure would depend upon the terms of the European Parliament's opinion on the Commission proposal, due to be delivered later in the week.
The Council also decided by QM (Portugal voting against) to defer for six months implementation of a 1997 Decision on Community-wide measures controlling Specified Risk Material pending agreement on a new Decision.
The Council agreed that adjustments to export refunds for processed agricultural products in order to meet budgetary and WTO limits should in future be governed by a strategic and targeted approach rather than via across-the-board cuts in refund rates. Officials were mandated to develop this strategy urgently with a view to adoption by March 2000 at the latest. My right honourable friend the Minister pointed out that, in the medium term, the solution was to bring down CAP support prices. Meanwhile, he endorsed the Council's proposed approach and expressed regret at the Commission's decisions to apply across-the-board refund cuts to date.
Commissioner Byrne updated the Council on developments in response to last summer's dioxin crisis and on the Commission's plans in relation to food safety. Commissioner Fischler reported on his participation in the recent WTO Ministerial meeting in Seattle and on new Commission proposals for reform of the CAP cotton regime.
Baroness Hayman: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Morley, represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels on 16-17 December, together with Mr John Home Robertson, Deputy Minister for Rural Affairs in the Scottish Executive, and Mrs Brid Rodgers, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, the first Minister for the newly devolved administration to attend an EU Council.
The Council agreed by qualified majority, with France voting against, the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas to apply in 2000 in Community waters and for Community vessels fishing in waters where catch limitations apply. Details of the final TACs are given in the following table.
Following from the advice of fisheries scientists in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission had initially proposed substantial cuts in many TACs, reflecting the poor state of some stocks, reduced recruitment to them or the need to bring fishing effort back to levels which will help to sustain the future availability of stocks. Working on the basis of the scientific advice but using some of the precautionary management options identified by the scientists, we were able to secure smaller cuts than originally proposed for a number of TACs including nephrops in Area VII, anglers (monk fish) in West of Scotland, the North Sea and Area VII,
Recognising the need to take steps to promote the recovery of the badly depleted cod stock in the Irish Sea, they were able to secure a Council and Commission commitment to introduce a recovery programme, after consultation with a new regional group made up of fishermen, scientists, and administrators involved in this fishery. The Commission will for the first time use the emergency conservation powers available to it to bring forward measures closing those areas in the Irish Sea in which spawning cod congregate from February to April 2000, as a way of protecting the stock. This commitment to an EU recovery programme, which followed intensive preparatory discussions between us, the Irish and the Commission, sets an important precedent for regional co-operation under the Common Fisheries Policy and the involvement of the industry in the management decisions on stock recovery.
The Council also agreed on the closure from 1 January 2000 of the sandeel fishery off the Firth of Forth in the interests of protecting seabirds dependent on sandeels. This measure which is in line with scientific advice resulted from close co-operation between us, Denmark and the Commission.
The regulation on TACs and Quotas adopted by the Council incorporates for the first time in a single regulation the outcome of all the Community's international fisheries arrangements for 2000 between the Community and Norway, Faroes, Greenland, and Iceland, and under the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.
The Council also adopted unanimously, with Portugal abstaining, the regulation applying control measures for Community vessels in 2000 required under the North East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation arrangements.
Commissioner Fischler confirmed that he would be meeting the Moroccan Minister of Fisheries on 20 December to initiate negotiations on a new fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco. He also made brief presentations on a Commission report on regional meetings, which will become available and be considered from January 2000, and the Commission's proposals for further amendment of the Technical Conservation Regulation, which includes provision for a three-year closure of the Firth of Forth sandeel fishery.
|Stock||1999 TAC (tonnes)||2000 TAC (tonnes)||Gain/Loss %|
|Sandeels IIa, IV||1,000,000||1,020,000||2|
|Herring I, II||1,300,000||1,252,000||-4|
|Herring IVa, b||240,000||240,000||0|
|Herring IVc, VIId||25,000||25,000||0|
|Herring Vb, VIaN, VIb||68,000||42,000||-38|
|Herring VIa (Clyde)||1,000||1,000||0|
|Herring VIIe, f||1,000||1,000||0|
|Herring IIa, IV Ind. by-catch||30,000||36,000||20|
|Cod IIa, IV||132,400||81,000||-39|
|Cod Vb, VI, XII, XIV||11,800||7,480||-37|
|Cod VIIb-k, VIII, IX, X||19,000||16,000||-16|
|Megrim IIa, IV||3,000||3,000||0|
|Megrim Vb, VI, XII, XIV||4,840||4,840||0|
|Dab & Flounder IIa, IV||30,070||30,070||0|
|Anglers IIa, IV||22,070||17,660||-20|
|Anglers Vb, VI, XII, XIV||8,600||8,000||-7|
|Haddock IIa, IV||88,550||73,000||-18|
|Haddock Vb, VI, XII, XIV||19,000||19,000||0|
|Haddock VII, VIII, IX, X||22,000||13,200||-40|
|Whiting IIa, IV||44,000||30,000||-32|
|Whiting Vb, VI, XII, XIV||6,300||4,300||-32|
|Hake IIa, IV||1,930||1,480||-23|
|Hake Vb, VI, VII, XII, XIV||30,910||23,600||-24|
|Lemon sole & witch IIa, IV||12,000||12,000||0|
|Blue whiting IIa NS||90,000||90,000||0|
|Blue whiting Vb, VI, VII, XII, XIV||407,000||407,000||0|
|Blue whiting VIIIa, b, d, e||26,500||26,500||0|
|Nephrops IIa, IV||15,200||17,200||13|
|Nephrops Vb, VI||12,600||12,600||0|
|Northern prawn IIa, IV||7,013||7,113||1|
|Plaice IIa, IV||102,000||97,000||-5|
|Plaice Vb, VI, XII, XIV||2,400||2,400||0|
|Plaice VIId, e||7,400||6,500||-12|
|Plaice VIIf, g||900||800||-11|
|Plaice VIIh, j, k||1,350||1,350||0|
|Pollack Vb, VI, XII, XIV||1,100||1,100||0|
|Saithe IIa, IIIb, c, d, IV||110,000||85,000||-23|
|Saithe Vb, VI, XII, XIV||7,500||7,000||-7|
|Saithe VII, VIII, IX, X||8,800||6,500||-26|
|Turbot & brill IIa, IV||9,000||9,000||0|
|Skates & rays IIa, IV||6,060||6,060||0|
|Mackerel IIa (EC), III, IV|
|Mackerel IIa (non EC), Vb, VI, VII, VIIIa, b, d, e, XII, XIV||500,000||560,000||12|
|Sole II, IV||22,000||22,000||0|
|Sole Vb, VI, XII, XIV||155||155||0|
|Sole VIIf, g||960||1,160||21|
|Sole VIIh, j, k||720||720||0|
|Sprat IIa, IV||175,000||225,000||29|
|Sprat VIId, e||12,000||12,000||0|
|Spurdog IIa, IV||8,870||9,470||7|
|Horse mackerel IIa, IV||60,000||51,000||-15|
|Horse mackerel Vb, VI, VII, VIIIa, b, d, e, XII, XIV||265,000||240,000||-9|
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