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EU fisheries reform passes final hurdle

10 December 2013

EU fisheries reform passes final hurdle

Long-term reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been approved by the European Parliament today in a vote that will see decisions decentralised towards fishing communities, rather than being set by bureaucrats in Brussels.

Long-term reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been approved by the European Parliament today in a vote that will see decisions decentralised towards fishing communities, rather than being set by bureaucrats in Brussels.

European Conservatives & Reformists Group fisheries spokesman Marek Grobarczyk, and Vice-President of the parliament’s fisheries committee Struan Stevenson, have led the reforms following key principles laid out by the ECR Group in the 2011 Windsor Declaration for CFP reform.

The reformed CFP would see ‘Brussels’ only setting the general framework, basic principles and targets. Day-to-day governance will be managed at a decentralised level with fisheries managed by multiannual plans, based on better scientific knowledge, to ensure that longer-term decision-making that protects the marine ecosystem.

MEPs have also approved proposals led through the parliament by Struan Stevenson focusing on reforms to the way producer organisations, labelling and marketing are organised in Europe. The plans will see fairer and much less confusing labelling for both consumers and the industry, and they would give fishing Producers Organisations more power over managing fisherman training and fisheries markets. Proposals to require a ‘date of catch’ and ‘date of landing’ label will not be made mandatory, which would have discriminated against larger vessels that are at sea for longer periods. Mr Stevenson has also asked the commission to look into the feasibility of a standard eco-label for the EU to replace the many different eco-labels that have emerged across Europe in recent years.

The vote today also delivers a campaign priority of the ECR Group: to end the immoral practice of ‘discarding’ (throwing away) edible fish in order to meet quota limits. An obligation to land and record all catches will be introduced between 2015 and 2019.

Speaking after today’s vote, Marek Grobarczyk (Poland, Law and Justice), said:
“The Common Fisheries Policy of the past saw decisions being made in the European Commission, and an all-night pre-Christmas meeting of EU fisheries ministers. It was no wonder we saw decisions made that neither protected fish stocks nor the livelihoods of fishermen. The Common Fisheries Policy has experienced general criticisms from a wide range of fishing industry circles.
“The new CFP aims to improve the situation of small scale fisheries and will see day-to-day decisions made by fishing communities themselves. Nobody knows better how to manage their precious resources than fishermen, working with local scientists. By landing all catch, rather than throwing much of it overboard, fishermen and scientists will be better able to assess the state of fish stocks in their waters.
“The new CFP is not perfect, but removes previous restrictions, which were often profoundly irrational and went against many aspects of the fishing industry.”

Struan Stevenson, (Conservative MEP for Scotland), said:
“Through proposals I steered through the parliament we will also give fishermen Producer Organisations more of a role in training fishermen and managing the way the market functions. Nobody knows better about fishing methods and marketing fish than fishermen themselves.
“The days of fishermen being dictated to by Brussels bureaucrats are over. Fishermen will have much more of a say over their own futures.
“We have fought a long campaign to end the immoral practice of throwing away tonnes of perfectly edible fish just to fulfil an EU quota. Wasting good food to appease a clipboard inspector was nothing short of distasteful. That is why we have finally reached a deal to ensure that all fish are landed and placed on the market either for food, or for fishmeal.
“This reform shows that, with a lot of hard work, it is possible to reform even the EU’s most ineffectual policies and decentralise power towards the people most affected by the decisions being taken.”

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