Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion has welcomed a historic vote by the European Parliament for sweeping reforms of European fisheries policy to end over-fishing and stop the wasteful practice of throwing thousands of tonnes of 'over quota' fish back into the sea.
In the vote at Strasbourg, Euro MPs including Dr Bennion and the Lib Dem ALDE group backed a blueprint for reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 502 votes to 137.
Phil Bennion said:
"The West Midlands region is the only wholly inland one in Britain, so our seven MEPs are alone in not representing fishing communities. This plan is vital not just to protect fishermen but also concerned consumers. Fish are an excellent and healthy food but people are rightly alarmed at the unsustainable and chaotic way fishing has been managed in recent years.
"This vote is historic and follows a long campaign to win support across party lines, with help from the Fish for the Future group, set up by north west Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies.
"Celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have done their bit too to raise awareness in the media of the crazy way we have been destroying our fish stocks. For too long EU governments have put short term interests above scientific advice and clear evidence that once common species like cod, herring and mackerel were vanishing from our seas.
"The huge majority puts Parliament in a strong negotiating position with EU governments in the Council of Ministers.
"Ireland, which holds the presidency of the Council of MInisters, has backed reform and has declared they want this agreed by the end of July. This is important as the Council has been a stumbling block to reform in the past.
"This is a victory for consumers who have demanded that we must stop overfishing, rebuild fish stocks, and end the shocking waste of millions of tonnes of edible fish thrown back into the sea as 'discards' each year.
"This vote shows the EU can agree reform. This was the first time that elected MEPs have had the legal powers to make a difference, and they have shown that they are up to the task. Governments have failed to put sustainability ahead of short term political interests."
"Parliament has also been clear that micro-management from Brussels should stop, allowing day-to-day supervision of coastal and ocean fisheries by those who understand local conditions."
"This deal is good news for fish, fishermen and for consumers."