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European Parliament Votes for an End to Discards and a Move Towards Sustainable Fishing

07 February 2013

ANALYSIS - The European Parliament voted in Strasbourg yesterday (6 February) for a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that will see an end to discards, better fisheries management through Maximum Sustainable Yields (MSY) and a transition towards low impact fishing and the decentralisation of fisheries management, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.

The European Parliament voted 502 to 137 in favour of the draft report by Ulrike Rodust, which sets out the basic regulations of the CFP reform package.

The basic aim of the reform package is to create sustainable fisheries, help fishing fleets to be economically viable and to promote aquaculture in the EU.

With a plan to end overfishing by 2015, a new era of fisheries management will come into force. MSY's will guide the setting of quotas, ensuring that fish catches are at sustainable levels and that stocks can recover above MSY levels by 2020. A ban on discards will mean less fish are wasted. The overall outcome should be that fish stocks are healthier, meaning better catches in the long term for fishermen.

Fish stocks are also to be managed from a long term view in line with scientific advice and data, collected by member states.

As part of the changes, the decentralisation of fisheries management was also supported by Parliament.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said: “In particular, we welcome the support for the decentralisation of fisheries management. Rather than a centralised ‘one size fits all’ policy, we now have a real opportunity to control our fisheries much more effectively on a regional basis where fishermen, government, scientists and other relevant stakeholders can develop effect management regimes. However, there is still no real indication yet of the scale of regional control that will be offered and this is still up for negotiation."

Commenting on the success of the vote, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki stated: "The European Parliament has supported with a broad majority an ambitious reform of the CFP by endorsing the approach put forward by the Commission. I welcome the vote and I am especially pleased with the Parliament's support for a policy that is based on exploiting fisheries resources sustainably (according to the principle of Maximum Sustainable Yield from 2015), a policy that introduces a discard ban with clear dates to put an end to wasteful practices that we can no longer afford. I would like to congratulate the Parliament on this success and I am looking forward to the work that the Council and the Parliament will soon start to ensure the adoption of the reform of the CFP."

Environmental groups also praised the efforts of those involved. Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, said: "The EU took a major step towards the proper management of our fishery resources. On behalf of Oceana, I thank all the representatives of European citizens for backing worldwide calls to act urgently for the health and future of our oceans."

Ian Campbell of OCEAN2012 and The Pew Charitable Trusts also commented: “This is a good day for the environment. An overwhelming majority of the members of the European Parliament have voted to end overfishing, and to rebuild fish stocks. We now expect EU fisheries ministers to show flexibility in their position, for the sake of our fish stocks and fisheries dependent communities,” said Campbell.

The Council of Fisheries ministers and the European Parliament will soon start negotiations, along with the Commission, to reconcile their respective positions and reach a final agreement on the reform by June 2013. The new CFP is to take effect in 2014.

Lucy Towers, Editor

Lucy Towers, Editor



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