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Fisheries reform – a success for all by all


It has been a hectic couple of weeks since the European Parliament voted to ambitiously reform the EU’s Fisheries policy. Now the dust is settling it is time to take stock of what we achieved and what we still need to do to convert this major step forward into meaningful fisheries reform.

Fishing in the early morning.The successful vote on fisheries reform means that sustainability it at the heart of this legislation – good for everyone! © Jiri Rezac / WWF-UK

Perhaps the most gratifying part of the victory for me was back at home; getting a hug off my children who had just watched the BBC Newsround story on the European Parliament vote to change fishing rules.

It’s a momentous step for setting sustainability at the heart of legislation, and not just as an after thought. If we are to live sustainably on this planet, we need our politicians to create more laws based on ecological limits.

The fourth element

The analysis has started and there are many factors that came together to deliver the result. But there are four elements that crop up time and time again:

The public. It was the public’s emails that made MEPs realise that this was a voter issue – not just an issue for environmentalists and fisherman. People cared and the MEPs could see that. On the day of the vote a UK MEP was overheard saying “We have been inundated with emails, tweets and painted fish. If we don’t listen to the public, we should lose our jobs.”

Business. Fish dependent companies have to be a part of the solution as they need a sustainable source of fish to keep them in business. Our work with some of these over the last 10 years and their support for reform helped show MEPs that there was a practical solution supported by business.

MEPs with their paint-a-fish tshirts. © Frank Paul / WWF-Canon

Supportive MEPs. Some MEPs have been championing the CFP reform for years in the European Parliament. Two particularly come to mind for me – Chris Davies and Isabella Lovin. Tireless reformists to whom we send our continued thanks.

Our colleagues all over WWF. We worked across Europe at a country level and in Brussels to make sure our message was heard. This proved that we were more powerful than the sum of our parts as we supported each other and co-ordinated our work to maximise our reach.

Unfinished business

We have won in Parliament but in the next 4 months we need to influence the Fisheries Ministers to ensure that they don’t water down these hard won proposals – and that the final negotiated text reflects a lot of the good principles that European Parliament voted for.

Our planning has started. We’ll be in touch for your critical help again.

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