This was the first Fisheries Council meeting for Dr Joe Borg as Commissioner responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. Commissioner Borg expressed his satisfaction at what he described as a very constructive meeting, and stressed that he would work to ensure the future of European Union fisheries for the benefit of all concerned. There were four items on the Council agenda.

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Bilateral EU/Norway Agreement

Commissioner Borg informed Council of the state of play of the negotiations with Norway on the annual exchange of fishing possibilities. Agreement has been reached on the swaps between the two Parties for the so-called cohesion cod. Member States expressed their satisfaction with the progress achieved so far. Negotiations will continue with Norway later this week. Commissioned Borg underlined the need to reach a balanced agreement that is acceptable to all parties concerned.

Proposal for a Council Regulation on a European Fisheries Fund

Council had its first policy debate on the Commission proposal for a European Fisheries Fund for the period 2007-2013. This debate, which was organised around five questions, showed support for the Commission proposal. However, there were divergent views among Member States on a number of areas such as funding for the building of new vessels, restricting aid to small and micro enterprises in aquaculture or the compulsory provision of social and economic aid measures.

Commissioner Borg said that he had listened with interest the debate. Noting that a number of Member States intend to send written presentations to the Commission, he said that there would be ample opportunity in the coming months to continue the discussions on all the points that have been raised.

Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2340/2002 and Regulation (EC) No 2347/2002 as concerns fishing opportunities for deep sea species for the Member States which acceded in 2004

A compromise was reached on amending the existing regulations governing deep sea fisheries to fix quotas for the new Member States and to set limits on the size of their fleets that fish these species. This Regulation now completes the integration of the new Member States into the regulation of fishing possibilities under the Common Fisheries Policy.

Management of fisheries in the Baltic Sea

According to scientists, urgent action is required to protect cod in the Baltic Sea. The Commission will propose a revision of the management plan adopted by the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission in 2003, next year. In the meantime protection measures will have to be taken. Council discussed Total Allowable Catch for cod for 2005, the limitation of fishing effort in the fisheries concerned and the allocation of quotas among the Member States concerned.

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