EP calls for clearer fish labelling – but sends mixed messages on ending overfishing

Four fisheries files were voted in the European Parliament today. While MEPs supported more transparent information to consumers, their condemnation of overfishing inside and outside the EU was ambiguous.

Stevenson report – market organisation & fish labelling
The Stevenson report on the common market organisation is the first legislative file to be voted in plenary, and will now be sent to the Council for the next step in co-decision. MEPs amended the draft legislation to support more transparent labelling of fisheries products. The Parliament wants fish labels to include information on gear type, fish stock and flag state. MEPs also voted to strengthen the role of Producer Organisations.
> EP file: Stevenson report

Gallagher report – sanctions against states that overfish
The Parliament approved a regulation which says that if a country fails in its international obligations to manage stocks according to the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the EU can threaten an import ban on any fishery product coming from that country that swims in the same ecosystem. These EU rules were drafted as a response to overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroe Islands, but will be applicable also to other nations. The Gallagher report is a legislative file but is not part of the CFP reform as such.
> EP file: Gallagher report

Salavrakos report – overarching communication
While MEPs through the Gallagher report called for measures against third countries that overfish, another file was voted where MEPs rejected an end to overfishing within EU waters. The Salavrakos report on the ‘overarching communication’ is a non-binding resolution which describes some of the principles that the EP want to see in the CFP reform. In this vote, MEPs got a majority of 5 for an amendment tabled by several members of the EPP group that rejects rebuilding fish stocks to levels above those that can produce MSY.

During the debate yesterday, MEP Chris Davies (ALDE) said: “Why is it that some members of the EPP group from the Spanish, French and Italian delegations just don’t get it? We have been overfishing. The problem for the fishing industry is that there are too few fish. We have to rebuild fish stocks.”

Also, in the Salavrakos resolution, while MEPs voted against an amendment calling for money to build new fishing vessels, they supported subsidising the modernisation of vessels.
> EP file: Salavrakos report

Haglund report – reporting obligations
Finally, another non-legislative resolution in the CFP reform that was approved is the Haglund report on reporting obligation
> EP File: Haglund report

Axel Naver

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