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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green Euro-MPs back overhaul of EU rules for fishing boats

GREEN MEPs Jean Lambert (London) and Keith Taylor (South-East England) have backed a radical overhaul of the EU rules governing commercial fishing today.

The new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will ban the ‘dumping’ of much dead fish back into the sea to meet quotas – as well as working towards a sustainable fisheries policy in the EU: one that’s got the interests of both the marine environment and long-term jobs at its heart.

Under current EU rules, fishing fleets are forbidden from landing more than their catch quota. Often, the only option is for the unwanted fish to be thrown back into the sea. The EU estimates that around half of the fish caught by fishermen in the North Sea are unnecessarily thrown back into the ocean, dead, sending stocks plummeting to less than ten per cent of immediate post-war levels.

Specifically, the new CFP will ban this practise for many fish species, seek to increase fish stocks across the board – without subsidies – and to develop a more regional approach to fisheries management, though the new rules will apply to EU-registered fishing vessels operating anywhere in the world.

Jean said: “The fishing industry is facing a crisis. Fishing fleets face economic hardship, with jobs and traditional industries being lost all the time.

“Yet the stocks of many popular fish species are dwindling – to the point where some once-common species are now rare, and some are threatened with extinction.

“The revised Common Fisheries Policy will shift the rules away from encouraging overfishing and ending the obscene practise of simply dumping dead fish in the sea to tying quotas to scientific evidence.

“It’s not just a matter of stopping overfishing; we must also take steps to restore stocks and have more fish back in the sea . Of course we’d like to see reform go much further, for example by linking fishing rights to environmental good practise – and we’ll be tabling an amendment to that effect – but it’s definitely a major step in the right direction.

“If these proposals come into force they will represent an effective overhaul of the CFP that will allow fish stocks to recover and help deliver a sustainable livelihood for fishing communities for years to come.”

Keith added: “This proposed legislation takes us a big step closer to a sustainable fisheries policy for the EU. For too long we’ve been fishing at such a rate that stocks can’t be replenished. This historic change gives us a chance to secure fisheries for future generations and guarantee long-term jobs for our fishermen.”

MEPs will vote on the proposals tomorrow (Wednesday) – and a final decision will be reached after a process of dialogue between Euro-MPs and the European Commission later this year.