MEPs have approved the biggest reform plan in the history of the EU's fisheries policy, pledging to restore fish stocks and boost fishing communities.
The measures, which were approved in a vote in Strasbourg today, include the banning of crews discarding unwanted fish, a common practice under current quotas, as well as long-term plans to protect stocks from overfishing. They also offer more control over managing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to regional fishing organisations, although some UK politicians have insisted on the scrapping of the CFP altogether.
EU fisheries ministers have been accused for years of ignoring scientists' advice on reducing fishing quotas to deliver long-term stock recovery, with critics blaming national Governments, whose main concern is to win the biggest catch allowances regardless of conservation.
Scottish fishermen welcomed the move. "In particular, we welcome the support for the decentralisation of fisheries management," said Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.
"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 effective management regimes."
While today's decision means that the European parliament now has co-decision powers over fishing policy, a final ruling will involve a three-way negotiation between MEPs, EU fisheries ministers and the European Commission.
By Kerstin Kuhn
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