MEPs to vote on crucial overhaul of Common Fisheries Policy

chris daviesWith all our attention today on Westminster (or Eastleigh) we can easily overlook important decisions being taken in Europe.

Tomorrow the European Parliament will be voting on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Now fish do not quite carry the same emotional appeal as equal marriage, but the management of fisheries is of significant environmental as well as economic significance.

The reform, which will be led by scientists as well as fishermen, will set targets for the rebuilding of fish stocks, and to end the practice of discarding perfectly edible fish. Every fishery will be required to have a long-term management plan.

Chris Davies MEP founded the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future‘ group and he tells us:

Tomorrow MEPs will have an historic opportunity to improve the common fisheries policy.  We can take steps to end discards, rebuild fish stocks and secure a better future for fishermen.

Governments have for many years adopted a suicidal approach by ignoring scientific advice and setting quotas that tolerate overfishing.  Policy in future must be science led.

* Mary Reid is the Monday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.

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  • David Pollard 5th Feb '13 - 6:11pm

    Fishermen and Scientists disagree so much over fish stocks I can never work out who is right. Sometimes I want to let the fishermen fish until there are none left, then start again from scratch with a proper sustainable policy.

  • Congratulations to Chris Davies and others who have pushed hard for these reforms. The MEPs voted overwhelmingly for the package by 502 votes to 137.

    Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst at the BBC has commented:

    “This historic vote is something of a victory for citizen power over a policy that has brought the EU into disrepute. MEPs were bombarded with complaints, following high-profile campaigns from celebrity chefs and environmentalists. The scale of the vote is significant. The parliament will now speak with a unified voice in the endgame of negotiations with fisheries ministers and the Commission – which already urges sustainable fishing.

    Ministers from nations with large fleets. like France and Spain, may attempt to weaken the resolutions, but they will find themselves swimming against a powerful tide. MEPs have made some tough choices. For instance, they had an option to vote for maximum sustainable yield – that is taking as much fish as the sea can reproduce annually. They demanded instead that fisheries should be allowed to grow, rather than to stay at their current depleted level.

    This argument is not over yet. There will be debate over how far to help small boats; how to cushion fishermen while stocks are recovering; and how much fisheries shall be allowed to recuperate (one UK fishery was reduced by 94% over 118 years of commercial fishing).

    But today’s votes will surely lead in the direction of the change the public have been demanding.”

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