Major reforms aimed at rebuilding Europe’s depleted fish stocks have been agreed by MEPs meeting in Strasbourg today.The new EU Common Fisheries Policy will make it a legal requirement to set quotas for fish catches using maximum sustainable yields, with the aim of rebuilding fish stocks by 2020. It requires long-term management plans to be prepared for every fishery and devolves day-to-day decisions about fishing practice from Brussels to regional bodies. A ban on the discard of fish will be phased in from 2015.
Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesman Chris Davies MEP, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group, claimed the new policy demonstrated the importance of Britain playing a constructive role in Europe to achieve reform.
He said: “For too long decisions were made about fishing policy that ignored scientific advice, with the result that Europe now has to import two thirds of the fish we eat.
“These changes are hugely important, and British ministers and MEPs can claim credit for the role they played in overcoming French and Spanish opposition to bring them about.
“The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is a work in progress. There will be loopholes that must still be closed. But real progress is being made and this can already be seen in the recovery of cod and haddock stocks around our coasts.”