A Lib Dem campaign to reform Europe's common fisheries policy has won strong support from Euro MPs.
In a series of votes in committee at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday, MEPs gave stronger than expected backing to radical reforms to EU fishing policy, voting to end the discard of perfectly edible fish and take steps to rebuild depleted fish stocks.
Decisions on a mammoth set of 2,500 amendments generally followed the lead of the 'Fish for the Future' group of MEPs, a cross-party campaign founded by North West region Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies in 2010.
Lib Dem MEPs say the votes are a key milestone in ending the practice of throwing dead but freshly caught edible fish back into the sea just because they are over quota.
West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion said: “I may be MEP for the only completely inland region in the UK, but I am just as concerned at the crazy way our fish stocks have been treated in recent years.
"We have been throwing perfectly edible fish overboard while fish stocks have collapsed over the last few decades.
“Year after year Fisheries Ministers from across the EU have ignored scientific advice by setting fishing quotas far too high for fish to survive. Some species have almost disappeared.
“This week's vote is a triumph for Chris Davies and the Fish for the Future campaign . MEPs have done the right thing to back proper reforms. We should finally see the number and size of fish in the seas around Europe start to recover to sustainable levels, so our fishing industry is viable again and the marine eco-system preserved.
"It is basic common sense that you have to reduce fish catches for a while to preserve the long term future of the fishing industry."
Campaigners say the vote was a 'once in a decade' chance to change the law underpinning fishing policy across the 27 states of the EU.
The legislation will now need to be ratified by the entire European Parliament, prior to detailed negotiations between MEPs and Fisheries Ministers from the 27 EU countries.