Fish Fight battles on after landmark fisheries reform

Sandy Luk
fisheries 300x225 Fish Fight battles on after landmark fisheries reform

(Getty Images)

Last week the EU seas and the fisheries they sustain faced a critical turning point. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), a regulation that governs everything from what lands on our plate to the nets used to catch it, is currently being reformed. For the first time ever, the European Parliament could vote for the CFP it wanted.

Much was at stake. Only a few months ago, ferocious industry opposition was threatening key changes essential for healthy seas, including sustainable management of fish stocks and phasing out discards (the practice of throwing dead or dying fish overboard made famous – or rather, infamous – by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight).

ClientEarth has been working on the CFP reform for over three years so it was a tense day. The anticipation peaked when, at the last minute, the vote was delayed by one more hour. Thankfully, voting finally got underway. As we watched, more and more votes went the way we hoped.

In the end, every one of our key asks was passed. With an amazing majority of 503 for and 137 against, European Parliamentarians accepted the fisheries committee’s amendments to the CFP. The amendments form a strong basis for change and real promise for the long-term health of EU seas and fisheries.

Fish Fight aired last night on Channel 4 and can it watched on 4OD. It hammers home this historical decision and looks at marine protected areas (MPAs) – patches of sea managed for the protection of biodiversity. MPAs can benefit local fisheries but we believe they also have a huge value in their own right. There are so many stresses on our oceans that designating areas where fish are free from fishing will increase their chances of surviving into the 22nd century.

It also gives an insight into some of ClientEarth’s work with Fish Fight, including our adverts to MEPs in four countries before a crucial Council meeting in June. The shows are an essential tool for communicating the message about the threats facing our oceans, as evidenced by the 800,000 Fish Fighters who petitioned to end discards in May 2012.

Back on land, ClientEarth will continue fighting for the seas as Brussels finalises the reform of this crucial legislation.

ClientEarth is an NGO of environmental lawyers, scientists and policy experts working to protect the environment through advocacy, litigation and research.

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