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EU fisheries reform set to rebuild fish stocks and give power back to the local community

December 10, 2013 2:22 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Major reforms to rebuild local fish stocks and give more power to local communities over fisheries management were agreed in a landmark vote today in the European Parliament.

Bill Newton Dunn in EU ParliamentThe sweeping reforms, pushed for byLiberal Democrat MEPs together with celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, 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.

The wasteful discarding of edible fish will be gradually phased out, while day-to-day decisions are being devolved to regional bodies made up of scientists and local fishermen.

Bill Newton Dunn, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands said:

"For too long decisions were made about fishing policy by National Ministers behind closed doors together who ignored scientific advice in favour of short-term local popularity, with the result that Europe now has to import two thirds of the fish we eat."

"Liberal Democrats have fought for reforms that will put long-term jobs ahead of short-term profits and put power back into the hands of the local community."

"Preventing mass overfishing will help to revive our fishing industry and secure the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen for generations to come. The wasteful practice of discarding, which sees thousands of tonnes of perfectly edible fish being thrown away each year, is being brought to an end."

"These changes show what can be achieved when Britain plays a constructive role in reforming the EU for the better."

The Facts


1. A legally-binding objective to rebuild fish stocks by 2020.

In setting annual quotas Fisheries Ministers have repeatedly exceeded the scientific recommendations, leading to a decline in stocks. The new policy includes a legally binding target to end over fishing (FMSY) by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020, for all stocks. Europe's fish stocks could increase by 15 million tonnes.

2. Legal obligation to land fish caught and reduce discards

Fishermen have not been allowed to land fish above quota, and so have discarded perfectly edible fish as well as those not commercially valuable (1.7 million tonnes pa). The new policy reverses the procedure. Starting in pelagic fisheries from 2015, fishermen will by 2019 have a legal obligation to land 95% of all fish caught. In order to not to waste quota fishermen will be encouraged to make use of more selective gear.

3. Long term management plans

A long term management plan will be prepared for every fishery in accord with scientific advice and taking account of the unique circumstances. The aim will be to restore and maintain fish stocks above levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yields. Plans may include conservation measures for particular species.

4. Regionalisation

Micro-management from Brussels will be reduced. Day to day decisions about the running of particular fisheries, and conservation measures needed, will increasingly be taken by regional advisory councils including fishermen and scientists from all the countries involved in the fishery. This was a priority for the UK Government.

5. Sustainable fishing partnerships

European vessels fishing overseas have been accused of exploiting stocks and denying indigenous people access to local food supplies. The new policy insists that future fisheries agreements with third countries must respect democratic principles and human rights.

6. Strengthening environmental protection

The new policy requires the Common Fisheries Policy, for the first time, to support the EU's environmental policies and objectives, including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Birds Directive, and Habitats Directive.

7. Reducing over-capacity

Europe has had too many boats chasing too few fish. The new policy emphasises the need for Member States to align their fishing fleet capacity with available fishing opportunities, at pain of risking interruption of some EU financial assistance.

8. Control and enforcement

The new policy requires establishment of an EU framework for control, inspection and enforcement, and seeks to promote cooperation to identify the most effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

9. Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing

The new policy strengthens the role of European Fisheries Control Agency in combating IUU fishing and promoting agreements with third countries to combat IUU fishing.

10. Fish Stock Recovery Areas

The new policy encourages EU countries to give additional protection to spawning grounds and sensitive areas where there is evidence of many fish below minimum conservation size