The environment committee in the European Parliament today voted in favour of measures aimed at rebuilding fish stocks.
With 50 votes against 0 (and 8 abstentions), MEPs in the environment committee today approved an opinion on the main item in the CFP reform: the basic regulation. The draftsman, Chris Davies (ALDE), said after the vote that he welcomed the endorsement for policies that would ensure working towards restoring European fish stocks.
“It sends a strong signal that there is a very large body of members who say we can’t carry on as we are, we can’t carry on overfishing. If that conviction carries forward to the fisheries committee, we’re going to have a very successful outcome,” Chris Davies said.
Overturn fisheries committee
If the fisheries committee later this year would vote differently on crucial issues in the reform, such as achieving maximum sustainable yield, today’s vote means that there is opportunity for overturning the fisheries committee decision in Parliament, according to Chris Davies.
“I think within the Parliament as a whole, those people who pay any attention to the issue overwhelmingly believe that we need to put in place some really sustainable policies,” he said.
The the report was adopted by the committee with 50 votes against 0, with 8 MEPs abstaining. Originally, there were 542 amendments, but most of them had been replaced by a list of 38 consolidated amendments tabled jointly by several political groups. All of the 38 consolidated amendments were adopted.
A coalition of environmental NGOs – including Greenpeace, Ocean2012, Oceana and WWF – praised the committee for the outcome of the vote. In a press release, the group welcomed the commitment to restore fish populations above sustainable levels by 2015 and the support for preferential access to fishing for the most sustainable operations.
Aim for maximum economic yield
In short, some of the proposals adopted today:
- setting a target of achieving above maximum sustainable yield in all fisheries by 2015 (no overfishing)
- long term management plans to be agreed for all fisheries, based on best scientific evidence or the precautionary principle
- restrictions on the degree to which Fisheries Ministers can set quotas that ignore scientific evidence
- requiring all fish caught to be landed and ending discards, to promote the use of more selective fishing gear
- transferable fishing concessions to be established only on a voluntary basis by Member States
- an assessment of overcapacity in the fishing fleet (too many boats chasing too few fish), and measures to reduce it
- full transparency regarding the allocation of fishing rights
- allocation of fishing rights to benefit small-scale fishermen
- the establishment of fisheries reserves
- long-term goals to restore stocks to levels that can produce the maximum economic yield for fishermen
- support for regionalised decision-making by encouraging MS to cooperate together when they are part of the same sea-basin
- strict sanctions against Member States that fail to comply with the requirmenets of the Regulation
The environment committee also voted on an opinion on Struan Stevenson’s report on the Common Market Organisation (CMO) in fisheries.
The consolidated opinions on the basic regulation and CMO regulation, as voted, will soon be made available on the environment committee website.
A preliminary version of the ENVI opinion is available.