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MEP demands EU fisheries reform

Wednesday, 9th March 2011

Yesterday East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer attended the Strasbourg launch of a new MEP pressure group calling for a change to the EU fisheries policy of "discards" -- the practice under which thousands of tons of perfectly good fish which are excess to quota are thrown back dead into the sea each year. The meeting was also attended by EU Fisheries Commissioner Mrs. Maria Damanaki.

Commissioner Damanaki sought to reassure MEPs that she understands the problems and that she is planning to resolve it.

Helmer welcomed her commitment, but remains sceptical. In his remarks to the Commissioner he pointed out that he had seen several Fisheries Commissioners come and go during his twelve-year term as an MEP, and they all said they understood the problem, and all promised to resolve it, but none had.

Following Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's campaign, The Big Fish Fight, the issue has risen up on the EU agenda, and Helmer commended the Big Fish Fight campaign, while regretting that it took a TV celebrity to get some action from the EU Commission, and that the efforts of MEPs over many years had had little effect.

Speaking in Strasbourg after the meeting, Helmer said:

"My constituents just canít understand why millions of tonnes of perfectly good fish are thrown away, and nor can I. This scandal has to stop."