MEPs vote to end overfishing - a big win for European taxpayers

Photo credit: kevin dooley

February 7, 2013 // By: Fernanda Balata

Years of research and campaigning on sustainable fisheries by nef and many other organisations have finally paid off after an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament voted to end overfishing.  At a vote in Strasbourg yesterday, 502 against 137 MEPs supported many of the key demands that nef and a strong coalition of other NGOs including OCEAN2012, Greenpeace and WWF, had been pushing for.

The approved European Parliament report on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) sets clear targets for when fish stocks need to be recovered: to end overfishing by 2015 and rebuild fish stocks by 2020.  In addition, MEPs voted to reward fishermen who fish in more environmentally and socially sustainable ways, and rejected amendments that would weaken the discard ban.

The Paint a Fish campaign had a significant role to play in the weeks prior to the vote, successfully linking public support and interest for the reform with the decision making process of EU politicians.  Over 23,000 fish paintings from supporters across Europe, many of those young children, received positive feedback from MEPs representing different EU political groups. A group of Green MEPs went a step further and wore t-shirts on the eve of the vote, with fish paintings sent by constituents.

The UK is currently a net importer of fish; if this reform is pushed forward, the UK could become a net exporter of fish in less than 5 years. In addition to savings for the tax payers, the historic result also means better management of natural resources and a future of better jobs for fishermen. 

But the work is not all yet done. Now, the European Parliament must negotiate with the Council of Ministers to turn this vote into law. The next step of the reform of the CFP will involve national interests in Europe, but although there’s still resistance for some of the items on the agenda, the European Parliament is in a much stronger position to push for a radical reform.

The Paint a Fish campaign will continue in the next months to engage young people and schools across Europe in the issues of sustainable fisheries. At the same time, nef will continue to produce ground-breaking reports to support the change we want to see.

To find out more about Paint a Fish, please visit

To find out more about nef’s work on fisheries, please visit



MEPs vote to end overfishing - a big win for European taxpayers

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