Thursday

1st Oct 2020

MEPs back end to fish discard 'madness'

  • 75% of stocks are overfished says the Commission. (Photo: Bruno de Giusti)

MEPs have voted in more eco-friendly rules on fish discards as part of a package to reform the EU's much-maligned common fisheries policy (CFP).

The Strasbourg Parliament voted on Wednesday (6 February) by 502 to 137 in favour of the new regime which will take effect in 2014.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The quota system of total allowable catches for each type of fish was introduced in 1983 in an attempt to preserve fish stocks.

However, overfishing has remained a chronic problem, with figures presented by the European Commission suggesting that 80 percent of Mediterranean fish stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic ones are overfished and becoming dangerously depleted.

Currently, 23 percent of caught fish are thrown back into the sea because they exceed quotas.

But German centre-left MEP, Ulrike Rodust, who piloted the legislation through Parliament, insisted that the national quota system should be replaced by an eco-friendly system based on "maximum sustainable yield" based on the replenishment of stocks. The provisions will enter into force from 2015,

Speaking in Strasbourg, Rodust commented that MEPs had "used our power as a co-legislator, for the first time in fisheries policy, to put a stop to overfishing."

"Fish stocks should recover by 2020, enabling us to take 15 million tonnes more fish, and create 37,000 new jobs,"she added.

Meanwhile, deputies backed the creation of a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), with a budget of €6.7 billion, to support the industry and, in particular, small-scale coastal fleets. Member states will be able to restrict fishing in a zone within 12 nautical miles of the coast, up to the year 2022.

MEPs rejected the EU executive's plan for a scheme of catch shares called "concessions" for trawlers who would then be able to trade their shares with other fleets.

The vote marks the first time that the parliament has used its powers as a co-legislator on the common fisheries policy under the Lisbon treaty.

Speaking on behalf of the Irish presidency, fisheries minister Simon Coveney said that the discards policy is "indefensible" and added that lawmakers should focus on "a sustainable management of fish stocks that can protect fish in the sea but also can protect rural, coastal and fishing communities that rely for their living and their income on a fishing industry. "

Coveney told MEPs that negotiations between governments and the parliament would start within the coming weeks, with a view to securing a deal by the end of the Irish presidency in June.

Over 3,000 amendments were tabled to the commission proposal by MEPs before a compromise was reached between the centre-left Socialist group, the liberals and the Greens.

The EPP group split, with its MEPs from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal leading opposition to the package.

For her part, fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki, welcomed what she described as "an ambitious reform of the CFP by endorsing the approach put forward by the commission."

She added that the reforms would "put an end to wasteful practices that we can no longer afford."

The vote prompted a mixed reaction from fisheries and environmental lobby groups.

Greenpeace's spokesperson on EU fisheries policy, Saskia Richartz, called it "a momentous shift away from overfishing."

Alex Wilks, director of the online campaigning group Avaaz, described the vote as "a huge victory for the citizens of Europe who urged MEPs to stand up to the fishing lobbies and call a halt to the overfishing madness."

But Guy Vernaeve, secretary general of fishing associations group Europêche, described the proposals as "unrealistic."

MEPs vote to end fish discards

As EU fishery ministers launched negotiations on annual fish quotas amid protests from activists on Tuesday, euro-deputies voted on some 3,000 amendments to help recover dwindling stocks.

Opinion

EU fisheries reform losing momentum

After a promising start, fundamental reform of EU fisheries polices has lost momentum but it is not too late to repair some of the damage to the engine room of the 2012 reform.

Opinion

EU's new fisheries policy: throwing a lifeline to the oceans.

European consumers eat nearly twice the fish that our oceans can provide, our over-subsidized fleet is too big, too powerful and not selective enough, writes Xavier Pastor ahead of the talks to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.

EU agrees overhaul of fisheries policy

The controversial 'discard' practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea faces an effective ban as part of an overhaul of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

Opinion

Inching towards a fisheries deal

As fish ministers meet in Brussels Monday, the Common Fisheries Policy is on the brink of a crucial step in its reform process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish MEP defects to Greens from Socialists & Democrats
  2. Finally a federal government agreement in Belgium
  3. Auditor appeals for EU funds on child poverty
  4. British MPs get behind controversial Brexit bill
  5. France admits Covid-19 app low take-up
  6. UK sanctions Belarus leadership
  7. Poland introduces new Covid-19 rules but no lockdown
  8. Turkey reportedly downs Armenian fighter jet

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  2. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  3. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  4. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  5. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?
  6. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  7. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  8. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us