TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has won his campaign to abolish an EU law forcing fishermen to throw dead fish back into the sea.
European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has announced that the practice which sees four million tonnes of edible fish being thrown back a year because of quota rules – would be phased out.
This radical reform of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) comes after Fearnley-Whittingstall’s high profile ‘fish fight’ campaign – calling for fishing to be more ethical – forced the issue into the public eye and attracted 700,000 supporters.
“The current system is bankrupt, as the compulsory discarding of millions of tonnes of fish every year demonstrates,” explained the chef, whose campaign was endorsed by celebrities including Sir Richard Branson, Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais.
Now, the European Commission has promised a return to a ‘decent living’ for fishermen, saying that the proposed shake-up of the quota system would bring fish stocks back to ‘sustainable’ levels by 2015.
“Action is needed now to get all our fish stocks back into a healthy state to preserve them for present and future generations,” said Damanaki.
“Only under this precondition can fishermen continue to fish and earn a decent living out of their activities.”
Under the new system fishermen would be obliged to land their entire catch.
Currently fishermen throw back up to 80 per cent of their catch because the fish are the wrong size or because of rules on quotas.
MEPs have 12 months to consult on the plans before they are made law next year.