Chef hails 'fantastic' fishing plan
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has hailed a "fantastic" EU fishing plan to restore stocks and revive the industry's fortunes.
In a 502-137 vote in Strasbourg, MEPs backed the biggest-ever Common Fisheries Policy reforms, crucially including a ban on the dumping of dead fish back in the sea - a consequence of current CFP quota rules restricting the size of landed catches.
Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, a celebrity chef who has won wide UK support for his battle against "discards", said in a statement: "It's fantastic news that MEPs voted for a strong discards ban and a legally-binding end to over-fishing.
"I hope in years to come this will be seen as a historic turning point in Europe's fisheries management. It's over two years since we launched the Fish Fight campaign, and this is one of the major results we've been campaigning for."
The deal also offers more control over managing the CFP to regional fishing organisations - although some UK politicians have been demanding nothing less than the scrapping of the CFP altogether.
UK Independence Party MEPs were defeated in an amendment they tabled on Wednesday demanding that "the CFP should be repatriated to member states as soon as possible".
The deal is not final. A three-way negotiation involving MEPs, EU fisheries ministers and the European Commission now begins, but the fact that the European Parliament now has "co-decision" powers over fishing policy means more clout for the measures MEPs and the Commission have put on the table.
That leaves fisheries ministers to back the moves so that legislation can be agreed by the end of June as planned.
UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon signalled his support in a statement saying: "I'm delighted that the European Parliament has voted in favour of many of the changes we need to reform this failed policy. This is a crucial step forward in securing radical reform of the CFP but there is still more work to be done.
"I will continue to work with my fellow fisheries ministers to ensure that the new CFP can help us achieve a prosperous fishing industry as well as healthy fish stocks."