Fisheries experts were celebrating today after European politicians advanced and strengthened a major scientific reform of fisheries policy.
Members of the European Parliament’s fisheries committee voted through a series of reforms including a ban on discards — the practice of throwing back unwanted and often dead or dying fish — and an insistence that the levels for fish catches should be set on the basis of scientific advice.
Greenpeace’s fisheries expert Saskia Richartz called the vote “a turning point after decades of complacency”, and the Seas At Risk pressure group declared that “Christmas has come early this year for European fish stocks”.
Initial proposals from the European Commission for reform of the ‘common fisheries policy’ (CFP) in 2011 were given a cautious welcome. But campaigners were disappointed earlier this year when ministers from member-state governments agreed a set of proposals that some scientists and campaign groups believed would not protect vulnerable species.
After today’s vote the whole European Parliament must agree on its proposals for a new CFP, which it will then debate with the ministers until a compromise agreement is reached.
For now, however, the mood seems jubilant in Brussels. After the vote, Member of European Parliament Chris Davies, founder of the pro-reform Fish for the Future group and a member of the fisheries committee, tweeted that he was “going to stand in front of a mirror so that I can look at the grin on my face”.