MEP welcomes fishing vote

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PENDLE MEP Sajjad Karim has welcomed the outcome of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee vote on fishing policy.

The vote, in favour of banning fish discarding by European fishermen, is part of the reforming of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, for which other issues were voted on. Since its inception, the policy has come under heavy fire, criticising the quotas put in place, meant to improve fish stocks.

Unfortunately, the quotas have not helped a problem that is thought to have begun long before the CFP was implemented. The overfishing of the world’s seas is a huge problem that has come under close media scrutiny in recent years. The quotas brought in by the EU were meant to prevent overfishing, stopping fishermen from hauling in every fish in the area. The quotas stipulate the maximum number of each species which can be caught and in what areas, an idea which was hoped to lead to an overall rise in fish stock.

This has not been the case. The quotas have simply led to fishermen discarding large quantities of edible fish back into the sea when they are already dead. There are no hard facts about discarding figures but EU estimates put the figures at somewhere between 40-60%! These fish are seen both as an economic and nutritional waste, when people around the world are starving, and a failing of the EU’s policy.

The reform of the European policy has been a contentious issue for a while now with TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, spear-heading the campaign. Mr Karim, along with other Conservative MEPs who began the work towards reform, has been a strong supporter of the “Fish Fight” campaign. The policy as the central issue in “Hugh’s Fish Fight” broadcast on Channel 4 in January, 2011. The campaign is also backed by many environmental organisations and celebrity faces like Stephen Fry and Richard Branson.