The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee approved draft laws on November 21 to limit unwanted catches, especially of juvenile fish.

Currently there are more than 30 different EU regulations laying down technical measures for fisheries. This has proved highly complex and arguably inefficient.

MEPs also agreed to have the STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) to assess innovative fishing gear, including electrical “pulse trawls” which are used to drive fish up out of the seabed and into the net.

This assessment should cover trial periods of at least four years, they add. Trial use would be restricted to no more than 5% of existing vessels. Use of such gear would be permitted on a commercial scale only if the assessment shows that it would not lead to “direct or cumulative negative impacts” on the marine environment.

As for regional measures deviating from the baselines, these would be introduced for the seven EU sea basins:  North Sea, North Western Waters, South Western Waters, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and waters fished by EU boats in the Indian Ocean and West Atlantic.

“Regionalisation would allow moving away from micro-management and rigid technical rules towards a more flexible, results-based management approach and would bring local authorities other stakeholders closer to the decision making,” said Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES).

“Our main objective is to give the chance to fishermen and to regional authorities to feel as the main actors in the management of resources, while ensuring that specific targets for progressive reduction of juvenile catches are set, based on science and adapted to the realities of each fishery. I believe this is a good compromise, ambitious but at the same time realistic and operational.”

The draft text was adopted by 20 votes to 5, with 2 abstentions. The text will now be tabled to a plenary vote in order to get the mandate and start negotiations with the Council.