Members of the European Parliament today backed sweeping reforms to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy which will see the end of “discards” – the process of throwing overboard unwanted fish that are already dead or dying – and gives a commitment to restore fish stocks to sustainable levels, increasing fishermen’s incomes and creating more jobs in the sector.
The historic vote, by 502 votes to 137, is the first time that MEPs will have an equal say to Member State Government Ministers in the Council on fisheries policy and follows a campaign organised by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall which gathered over 800,000 petition signatures calling for European fishing to be made more accountable and environmentally friendly.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Welsh Labour MEP DEREK VAUGHAN said:
"An estimated 60% of stocks are currently overfished and the dreadful practice of dumping around a million tonnes of discarded fish urgently needs to be addressed and dealt with.
The proposals have been overwhelmingly supported by MEPs and the vote sends a clear signal that real change needs to be delivered with far reaching reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to reverse the depletion of stocks and place fishing in the EU on a sustainable footing.
This is only the start of the process and the responsibility now lies with domestic governments to follow our lead and agree to a new European fisheries policy that delivers in terms of stock protection and in safeguarding the long term interests on the industry."
Today’s vote marks the beginning of a period of negotiations between MEPs and Ministers from the EU’s 27 Member States in the European Council. Final approval of the new policy is expected later this year.