Sustainable fishing moves one step closer

Wednesday 6th February 2013

Sprat shoal cpt Paul Naylor

A fisheries policy which has resulted in overfishing, damage to fragile marine habitats and a failure to properly support sustainable fishing practices is set to be updated, in a move welcomed by The Wildlife Trusts.

Today the European Parliament voted on the Fisheries Committee proposals on reform to the Common Fisheries Policy.  This was an opportunity for MEPs to overhaul a fisheries policy that is widely recognised to have failed.

This is a truly historic vote which should set European fisheries back on a course to healthier seas and sustainable fishing activity

Applause broke out in the Parliament as MEPs overwhelmingly voted for ambitious reform, voting to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks by no later than 2015, following proper scientific advice and adopting 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.

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“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. 2013 could turn out to be the year that we start to care for our fragile seas.  Next step: the Government needs to compliment this decision by forging ahead with an ecologically coherent network of Marine Conservation Zones.”

The process is not over yet.  MEPs and the Council of Ministers have joint legislative duties so representatives of 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.  The Wildlife Trusts are hopeful that these discussions will not lead to watered down policy. All being well, this year will see the creation of an effective and truly sustainable Common Fisheries Policy.

Notes for editors:

Marine Conservation Zones
127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years’ work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government.  The network was designed to ensure that special marine landscapes do not become isolated and vulnerable, and to ensure that the wide range of marine habitats found in UK seas are protected.

At a recently parliamentary event close to 250,000 signatures in support of greater marine protection were given to Natural Environment Minister, Richard Benyon. For further detail please see our most recent release.

See Joan Edwards’ blog on marine protection here.

Tagged with: Living Seas