More data is needed about species to make Europe’s fishing more sustainable
The European Parliament has voted for sweeping reforms of the controversial EU Common Fisheries Policy.
The package includes measures to protect endangered stocks and end discards – the practice of throwing unwanted dead fish into the sea.
Wasteful discards are reckoned to account for a quarter of total catches under the current quota system.
There are hopes that the changes can become law by next year, after more talks with the 27 EU governments.
The MEPs voted for the package by 502 votes to 137. Opponents were mainly in the Green and Eurosceptic groups.
A fishing alliance, Europeche, says the reforms are too sudden and too radical.
With an estimated 75% of Europe’s stocks overfished, there has been enormous public and media pressure over this latest attempt to shake up the CFP.
The reform package was presented to the full parliament in Strasbourg by the German Social Democrat MEP Ulrike Rodust.
She said the reforms “will bring an end to the December ritual of fisheries ministers negotiating until 4am, neglecting scientific advice and setting too high fishing quotas.
“As of 2015, the principle of maximum sustainable yield shall apply, which means that each year we do not harvest more fish than a stock can reproduce. Our objective is that depleted fish stocks recover by 2020. Not only nature will benefit, but also fishermen: bigger stocks produce higher yields.”
She said fishermen had to be helped through a transitional period as fishing capacity shrank to allow stocks to recover.
MEPs are sharing power with the Council – the EU governments – on fisheries policy for the first time. There is still some dispute about the amount of influence MEPs can exert over fishing quotas.
Under the new proposals, the EU will shift from the current bargaining over quotas – a system often attacked by environmental groups – to fishing based on “maximum sustainable yield” (MSY).
The phasing in of MSY depends on collecting more scientific data about the rate at which different marine species reproduce.