THE fishing industry could be given an extra year to get its house in order before a ban on dumping fish at sea comes into place.
Talks between EU fisheries ministers chaired by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney continued into the night in Brussels in an effort to reach consensus on the contentious issue of the introduction of a ban on the discarding of fish from trawlers.
A ban on dumping pelagic fish (including mackerel, herring and horse mackerel) is likely to come into place on January 1, 2015. This is one year later than fishermen had previously feared.
However, a ban on discarding mixed white fish species that includes cod, haddock and whiting being phased in the following year would prove more problematic to implement.
Last night, talks stalled on the level of discard that would be allowable.
As it stands, fishermen have to dump fish at sea if they exceed their quotas or if the species are not part of a trawler's allowable take.
The EU Commission estimates that 23pc of all fish caught by EU vessels are thrown back into the sea.
The north-east Atlantic has the highest discard level in the world, estimated at 1.3 million tonnes, according to UN estimates.