Graham Watson MEP

Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar

A local champion with an international reputation

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Watson hails fish fight victory at European Parliament

Local Lib Dem Euro MP Graham Watson has welcomed a historic vote by the European Parliament for sweeping reforms of fisheries policy to save fish from over-fishing and wasteful 'discards' of millions of tonnes.

In the vote today, Euro MPs including Graham Watson and fellow Lib Dem MEPs backed a blueprint for ambitious reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 502 votes to 137.

Commenting after the vote, South West Euro MP Graham Watson said:

"Today's vote is historic and follows a long campaign to win support across party lines.

"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 in recent years.

"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.

"This 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 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 we have shown that we are up to the task. Up to now Governments have failed to put sustainability ahead of their own 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."

ENDS

Notes to editors: The European Parliament report detailing the reform plans can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2013-0008&language=EN#title2