Stop Overfishing: Fisheries Committee Approves Major Reform For “Blue Europe”


The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) needs radical reform to cut fishing to sustainable stock levels, end discards, and use better long-term planning based on reliable scientific data, said Fisheries Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Overfishing is widely seen as the worst failure of the current CFP, dating from 2002. The new one is to take effect in 2014.

European Commission figures suggest 80% of Mediterranean stocks and 47% of Atlantic stocks are overfished. The proposal voted in the Fisheries Committee contains clear and strong measures to tackle this problem.

“I am very relieved that we have now cleared this difficult hurdle. I expect that the plenary will confirm our vote in February. After that we will have a strong backing to start negotiations with the Council in order to get the reform signed and sealed” said Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE), Parliament’s rapporteur on the fisheries reform..

Stop overfishing by ending discards…

Discards – fish thrown back, usually because they are of unwanted species or size – account for almost a quarter of total EU catches. Most of the discarded species die. To end this wasteful practice, MEPs voted to oblige fishing vessels to land all catches in accordance with a timeframe setting specific dates for different fisheries, starting from 2014.

Landed catches of fish that are undersized, for example, would be restricted to uses other than human consumption. Member States must make sure fishing vessels comply with the discard ban.

…and respect maximum sustainable yield

The maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is defined as the largest catch that can be safely taken year after year and which maintains the fish population size at maximum productivity. In today’s vote, MEPs sought to ensure that fish stocks will recover, by 2020 at the latest, to above levels that are capable of producing the MSY, and thereafter to maintain all recovered stocks at these levels. Ultimately this means more fish, better catches and, as a consequence, more jobs in the fishing industry.

Long-term planning instead of yearly quota-haggling

To achieve sustainability in fisheries, multi-annual fish stock management plans are now established as a priority. A longer term approach should bring greater predictability, and the fishing industry will be able to invest better and plan ahead. Multi-annual plans will be based on more reliable and accurate scientific data, which EU member states will be obliged to collect and make available.

The draft resolution on the Common Fisheries Policy was approved with 13 votes in favour, 10 against and 2 abstentions, and should be put to a plenary vote in February.

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