Today the European Parliament voted with a large majority for the negotiated compromise on the new EU regulation on fishing deep-sea stocks in the North-East Atlantic (634 votes in favour and 38 votes against). We would like to congratulate our colleague, Isabelle Thomas, who was the rapporteur.

The new adopted regulation foresees a ‘footprint freeze,’ or the obligation for deep-sea fishing to be restricted to areas already exploited between 2009 and 2011; a total ban on bottom trawling below a depth of 800 metres; on-board checks and penalties for offenders; and greater transparency of activity through increased collection of vessel data and publication of all impact assessments on resources.

For the record, in 2012 a majority of MEPs rejected the Commission’s proposal to ban deep-sea fishing outright. Together with the Council, we developed a regulation that takes into account both environmental requirements and socio-economic issues. This solution fits in perfectly with our sustainable development objectives.

Today the Parliament voted for a fair and balanced compromise. It reconciled the preservation of a vulnerable sea bed, the protection of deep-sea species and the safeguarding of jobs that depend on this economic activity. With the introduction of the notion of a footprint, deep-sea fishing will now be restricted to areas already exploited in the past and limited to a depth of up to 800 metres.

This vote rewards a long negotiation process by Isabelle Thomas in agreement with the majority of the political groups, in spite of external pressures and fanatical speeches. It demonstrates that a regulated and sustainable approach was possible, instead of a brutal ban. Some NGOs, which led a veritable slander campaign against Isabelle Thomas, and more broadly, socialist and radical MEPs have welcomed this agreement today, and attempted to take credit for the results, even though the compromise solution adopted today is one we have been advocating since 2012.

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