Scottish fishing leaders welcome European backing for CFP reform
Scottish fishing leaders have welcomed the European Parliament approving major reform, including to end the discarding of dead fish.
The reform package for the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) also includes measures to protect endangered stocks, bring in more regional management and have more long-term planning.
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) welcomed the vote.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead also praised the move.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: "The current CFP is widely acknowledged as being badly over-centralised and failing to deliver effective fisheries management.
"We therefore welcome today's vote in the European Parliament, which is another step on the way to a new and reformed CFP.
"But it is important to remember that a final agreement has still to be reached among the European institutions, which is likely to take until at least the middle of the year."
He explained: "In particular, we welcome the support for the decentralisation of fisheries management.
"Rather than a centralised 'one size fits all' policy, we now have a real opportunity to control our fisheries much more effectively on a regional basis where fishermen, government, scientists and other relevant stakeholders can develop effective management regimes.
"As far as discards are concerned, no-one hates discarding more than our fishermen but there is concern about how a discards ban would work in practice, given the complex mixed fisheries that our fishing fleet works in.
"There is still, therefore, much to discuss on the operational details of how such a plan would actually work."
Mr Lochhead said: "Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy was badly needed and long overdue so I am pleased that MEPs have voted through these proposals which will finally see an end to the wasteful practice of discarding.
"This vote is a key milestone and provides a sound basis for discussions with the Ministers in the coming weeks.
"I am looking forward to continuing to fight Scotland's corner at the fishing council in Europe later this month, especially in terms of ending micromanagement by Brussels of our seas.
"I am determined that we must not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the reform that our fishing communities need if we are to ensure that both our marine environment and fishing industry can survive and thrive."
MEP Struan Stevenson said: "These reforms will wrestle control away from the micro-managers in Brussels who have made such an absolute mess of fisheries policy for the past 30 years.
"The vote today in Strasbourg was a seminal and long-overdue landmark on the road to reform of the CFP."
Helen McLachlan, fisheries programme manager at WWF-UK said: "This is a ground-breaking result for the future of fisheries across Europe and beyond.
"This vote reflects the views of the hundreds of thousands of members of the public, industry and fishermen themselves who campaigned to ensure the long term stability of fish stocks."
However, a fishing alliance, Europeche, said the reforms were too sudden and too radical.
The MEPs voted for the package by 502 votes to 137.