Posted: Wednesday 6th February 2013 by Joan
Saithe- Paul Naylor
Today the European Parliament voted on Fisheries Committee proposals on reform to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This was an opportunity for MEPs to overhaul a fisheries policy that is widely recognised to have failed- resulting in overfishing, damage to fragile marine habitats and a failure to properly support truly sustainable fishing practices.
Applause broke out in the Parliament as MEPs overwhelmingly voted for ambitious reform, voting to end overfishing and to rebuild depleted fish stocks by no later than 2015, to follow proper scientific advice and to adopt the precautionary principle to set annual quotas for catch. They also voted to ban discards and voted down an amendment to weaken this ban and supported rewarding fishermen who fish in more environmentally and socially sustainable ways with priority access to the resource.
This is a truly historic vote which should set European fisheries back on a course to healthier seas and sustainable fishing activity. This in turn should lead to a healthier fishing industry and the communities that it supports, and an end to wasteful discards.
However, we are not quite there yet. MEPs and the Council of Ministers share legislative duties so representatives of the European Parliament and Fisheries Ministers now need to get together to find common ground in areas where they disagree. The European Parliament has shown great ambition towards a reformed CFP so we are hopeful that these discussions will not lead to watered down policy. So fingers crossed, we are well on the way to the creation of an effective and truly sustainable CFP.