The members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee have voted to significantly strengthen the Commission’s proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy. The final opinion as approved is a clear sign that MEPs want to put sustainability at the heart of the reform.

The members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee have voted to significantly strengthen the Commission’s proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy. The final opinion as approved is a clear sign that MEPs want to put sustainability at the heart of the reform.

Key amendments approved by the Environment Committee today include provisions aimed at restoring fish stocks to levels capable of producing the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), protecting marine ecosystems (including vulnerable species and habitats) and supporting low impact fisheries.

In particular, the Committee supported amendments aimed at:

- Restoring fish stocks’ biomass to levels above those that can produce MSY by 2015 and improving fishing practices so as to achieve a Good Environmental Status by 2020, in accordance with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive;

- Granting preferential access to fish resources to the operators who fish in the most sustainable manner;

- Ensuring that annual quotas do not exceed the limits advised by scientists;

- Rejecting the mandatory nature of Transferable Fishing Concessions (TFCs);

- Requiring that Member States assess their fishing capacity and put in place measures to align their fleet capacity with sustainably-defined fishing opportunities;

- Ensuring that EU subsidies are only granted to recipients who are compliant with the rules of the CFP;

- Moving towards a regionalised and longer-term approach to fisheries management, based on multi-annual plans (MAPs); and

- Ending the wasteful practice discarding unwanted catches of fish.

The Fisheries Committee (who leads on the CFP reform file) will vote on their report on the CFP in July, and they will need to consider the opinion of the Environment Committee.

The Council of Ministers will meet in June to come to agreement on a general approach, but the Council first reading will only take place after the Parliament’s plenary vote, scheduled for early September.

Seas At Risk and OCEAN2012 are advocating a CFP reform that stops overfishing, ends destructive fishing practices and delivers fair and equitable access to fish resources.

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