EU vote threatens the oceans

We believe in healthy oceans. Sustainable fish stocks mean more fish for everyone. That’s why we joined with Fish Fight to secure a strong fisheries law in Europe. In 2013, over 800,000 Fish Fight campaigners supported this. We were successful then, but unfortunately this success is being threatened, so we’ve joined with Fish Fight again.

Today, the EU’s fisheries committee could vote to spoil the new Common Fisheries Policy’s sustainability rules. European politicians are voting on what was intended as a technical detail of the new fisheries law. However, anti-reformists have proposed amendments would take us back to the bad old days of overfishing and discarding (throwing edible fish overboard).

Our lawyer Flaminia Tacconi says this would be a disaster: “The proposed changes are disastrous for European fisheries. They undermine the landing obligation, which is the highlight of this reform. The landing obligation means fish caught will be brought to land and more sustainable fishing limits can be set. This is essential to prevent fish stock collapse and protect our fisheries.”

The new Common Fisheries Policy included improved sustainability measures like the landing obligation, which is threatened by Wednesday’s vote.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who led the Fish Fight campaign, said: “Fish Fight showed us just how strongly the public across Europe feel about the future of our oceans, and the need to end the wasteful practice of discards. This is a chance for the fisheries committee to send a strong message showing they are committed to carrying out the bold and vital reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy. Delaying or weakening these reforms now will perpetuate the unsustainable and wasteful practices of the past – and it will let down the hundreds of thousands of voters who support these changes.”

Sam Stone, fisheries officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Discard bans are employed in commercial fisheries worldwide to drive improvements in selectivity and monitoring, and to reduce waste. Ministers need to see the enabling regulation through and ensure our discard ban isn’t undermined.”

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Graham Smith

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