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EP: historic vote for a sustainable EU Fisheries Policy

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Thursday, 07 February 2013

EP: historic vote for a sustainable EU Fisheries Policy

The European Parliament backed on Wednesday (6 February) overwhelmingly reform to end over-fishing and restore EU sea stocks by 2020.
The revised policy Common Fisheries Policy, to take effect in 2014, will enforce sustainable catch limits - meaning fishermen can catch no more than a given stock can reproduce in a year. It will also end the practice of discards: throwing undersized fish or unwanted species back into the sea, where they usually die anyway.
Thus, EU member states will be prevented from setting quotas that are too high to be sustainable. Fishermen will have to respect the "maximum sustainable yield" - catch no more than a given stock can reproduce in a given year.
In order to restore sea stocks, the reform will rely on multi-annual fish stock management plans, based on more reliable and accurate scientific data, which EU member states will be obliged to collect and make available. Taking a longer term approach should improve market predictability, which in turn should help the industry to invest better and plan ahead.
EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki estimates that  the reform will lead to the increase in the amount of fish in the sea by 50 million tones by 2020, which will lead to 25 per cent more income for fishermen and 30 per cent more jobs.
“Two third of the European fish stocks are overfished today. This reform will end the unacceptable practice of throwing millions of tonnes of perfectly good fish back into the sea and will allow our fish stocks to recover based on advise from both scientists and fishermen. “, ALDE MEP Nils Torvalds, (Svenska folkpartiet, Finland) said.
While the broad outlines of the new policy are in place, some details still have to be negotiated. It will then need final parliamentary approval as well as endorsement from the EU's 27 governments including Britain, which is debating looser ties with the bloc.
Eurosceptics there have called for more regional management of fish stocks and the right to control access of other European fishing vessels to British waters. The Irish Presidency of the Council has repeatedly said it hopes to achieve an agreement the end of June.
The Common Fisheries Policy, which dates back to the 1970s, was regarded as a failure. It has allowed subsidised, industrial-sized fleets to devastate fish stocks, while eurosceptics have scorned it as bureaucratic. Currently, some 80% of Mediterranean and 47% of Atlantic stocks are overfished, European Commission figures showed.
This was the first time the European parliament voted on the CFP.

Source: Euractiv, European commission, ALDE, The Parliament