Proposals to overhaul the EU's Common Fisheries Policy were today voted on by the European Parliament. The historic vote marked the first time MEPs have had a say as co-deciders on the fundamentals of EU fisheries policy (1). The Greens gave a broad welcome to the outcome (notably on ending discards and sustainable fisheries management plans) but highlighted that EU governments must now back up the EP vote and support the sustainable reform of the CFP when they decide on the proposals in Council. Commenting after the vote, Green fisheries spokesperson Isabella Lövin (MEP, Sweden) said:
"MEPs have today voted to finally put the EU's fisheries policy on a sustainable footing, addressing overfishing in Europe and beyond. This historic vote, the first time parliament has had a role as co-decider on EU fisheries policy, throws down the gauntlet to EU governments, who will meet in Council this month to decide their position on CFP reform.
"If endorsed by fisheries ministers, the outcome of this vote would bring an end to the destructive and money-losing EU fisheries policy, which has been based on subsidised overfishing. Regrettably, laggards in Council are looking to postpone any fundamental reform until after 2020. This may be too late for many fish stocks. Hopefully, today's vote will provide the impetus needed to ensure this historic opportunity is not lost.
"Crucially, MEPs have backed plans to require sustainable levels of fishing from 2015 on, to enable fish stocks to be restored to abundant levels by 2020. More fish in the sea means more profitable fishing for fishermen so this situation will benefit both the environment and the industry. MEPs also voted in favour of ending the senseless and wasteful practise of discards for all harvested species. The Greens also hailed the support of MEPs for a key Green proposal to ensure that the right to fish is allocated based on best performance, with a view to rewarding environmentally and socially sustainable fishermen.
"EU fisheries ministers must now heed this vote and support a sustainable CFP reform starting immediately, not in 2020. This will allow the recovery of fish stocks to begin as soon as possible, which is in the interest of the fishing industry, its employees and our seas."
(1) The Lisbon Treaty gave the European Parliament a co-decision role on EU fisheries policy for the first time.