Ministers from across Europe have agreed proposals for a new set of rules and regulations for fishing.
The Council of the European Union meeting in Luxembourg drew up a new package to propose to the European Parliament for a redrawn Common Fisheries Policy.
Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the agreements would spell an end to 30 years of bureaucracy damaging fishing communities.
But the Scottish Greens said the proposals, which include a ban on discards, had too many loopholes.
Negotiations concluded today after two days of talks, which included both Lochhead and UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon.
The UK minister had been one of those who called for a ban on the practice of throwing usable fish back into the sea, but the group agreed it would not be introduced until 2015.
Lochhead said the process was not and “end of the road” but a “significant start”.
He added: “Only a few years ago this agreement would have been unthinkable and although it can be much improved, it lays the foundations for a radical reshaping of the broken Common Fisheries Policy by introducing regionalisation and tackling the scandal of discards.
“For the past thirty years, a one size fits all, micro-managing fishing policy run by out of touch bureaucrats has inflicted enormous damage on Scotland’s fishermen, fishing communities and fisheries. The public will therefore welcome EU Ministers’ long overdue rejection of the status quo, which Scotland has argued for consistently and been instrumental in securing.
“Many countries tried to put a spanner in the works and had they got their way that would have been damaging for fisheries conservation with discard bans not in place until 2020 and beyond. So while we are disappointed that our ambitious timeframe was not agreed to, the timeframe set out by the Commission is a significant step in the right direction after more than thirty years of discard inaction.”
But Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “There is a clear public appetite for ending the shocking practice of discards and we must heed scientific advice to revive stocks and secure a future for our fisheries. The view of those who care about the sustainability of the sector is that these talks have been a flop rather than a success.
“We owe it to future generations to match ambitious words with action. Greens in Scotland and across Europe will continue to press the case.”
Conservative Environment spokesman in the Scottish Parliament Jamie McGrigor said: “I welcome the fact that some progress has been made on regionalisation, which is one of the key features we want to see from a reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
“There has also been some progress made towards ending discards through a gradual species-by-species target approach.
“While all of us want to see a reduction in discards, we must do it in a flexible way, recognising the diverse nature of mixed fisheries and the need for practical measures which actually deliver results. We must achieve the correct balance between the numbers of fish in the sea and the opportunity to catch them and we need a discard programme which is easy to use for our Scottish fishermen who, after all, have led the way in Europe in conservation measures in the past.”