For decades, the European Union has failed to prevent overfishing but today in an historic vote, an overwhelming majority, 502 vs. 137 members of the European Parliament called for the restoration of fish stocks by 2020.
Going much further than the Fisheries Council, the European Parliament voted to set an early date to end overfishing and to set a clear target to rebuild depleted fish stocks. They also supported strict capacity assessments in line with the EU's international commitments and financial aid to be conditional on compliance with the rules. Lastly, they supported the proposal to reward fishermen who fish in more environmentally and socially sustainable ways with priority access to the resource.
“An overwhelming number of members of the European Parliament from all political groups made history today, by voting to reverse decades of overfishing by the EU and by setting ambitious targets for the restoration of fish stocks,” said Uta Bellion of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “The vote sends a very clear message to EU fisheries ministers that in the upcoming negotiations with the Parliament on the Common Fisheries Policy reform, they will have to consider ending EU overfishing earlier than they would like to.”
Now the two bodies, the Parliament and Council, must negotiate a compromise. German member, Ulrike Rodust will now lead the Parliament’s negotiation team, while the Council will be represented by the Irish fisheries minister, Simon Coveney. Ministers will be meeting at the end of February to finalise the Council’s negotiation position.
“This is a good day for the environment. We now expect EU fisheries ministers to show flexibility in their position, for the sake of our fish stocks and fisheries dependent communities.” said Bellion.
Read the more about this issue on the Pew Environmental Initiatives website.