The original aim of repopulating stocks by 2015 is facing a five-year delay.
About three-quarters of European stocks are overfished, and studies show fishermen would have a more prosperous future by curbing catches now.
The main battle line pits more conservation-minded northern countries such as Germany and Sweden against southern states keener to protect fishermen’s’ short-term interests, including Spain, Portugal and France.
“The question is very basic - do EU fisheries ministers have the courage to end overfishing or not?” said Markus Knigge, advisor to the Pew Environment Group.
The original CFP reform proposal put forward by European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki last year contained three key elements:
- restore all fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015
- reduce and regulate the size of the EU’s fishing fleet through an internal trading mechanism
- eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding fish that are outside a boat’s quota.