Reform of fisheries policy is ‘positive step’ says MP

A NORTHUMBERLAND MP has described proposals to reform the EU Common Fisheries Policy as a “positive step”.

The European Commission’s proposal to overhaul the procedures by providing fishing fleets with greater flexibility, ending the practice of fish discarding and securing the long-term sustainability of European fish stocks, has been welcomed by Sir Alan Beith.

Under the changes, fisheries would have to take into account the sustainability of the local ecosystem and the impact of their fishing practices on that system. All fish stocks would have to be brought to sustainable levels by 2015.

The proposals seek to hand back more decision-making powers to member states so that the industry can tailor its actions to local conditions.

They also outline that fishermen’s organisations will play a stronger role in steering market supply and increasing their profits.

Sir Alan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: “What fishermen need is a regional management system under which discarding is unnecessary and recognition is given to the mixed nature of the fisheries on which our local boats depend.

“They are also concerned about Marine Conservation Zones being accessible to boats from other countries and I welcome the Government’s strong stand against this during the negotiations.”