Labour and SNP MEPs today ignored the interests of British fishermen and backed an attempt by the European Parliament to keep the UK inside the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) post-Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens also supported the threat to exclude British fish from any future trade deal with the EU unless the UK continues to apply the CFP. The proposal is contained in a wider report on fish products entering the EU, which was passed by the Parliament in Strasbourg.

Conservative Fisheries Spokesman Nosheena Mobarik described the parties' decision to vote in favour of the report as "astonishing".

 

She said: "I cannot understand how any British MEP can endorse what amounts to blackmail by the European Parliament. This report says the UK must either give up the right to exercise control over its fishing grounds or face losing EU markets for its fish.

"If it became policy it would cost jobs amongst our fishermen and in our coastal communities. While Conservative MEPs stood up for Britain's interests, the fisheries sector was betrayed today by Labour, the SNP, Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. This vote will not be forgotten by our fishing communities."

Ministers have pledged the UK will take control of its fishing waters at the end of the implementation period in December 2020. Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands all cooperate with the EU on fisheries affairs but are not forced to be part of the CFP

 

Baroness Mobarik continued: "Conservative MEPs have faith that, free from EU red tape and outdated systems, the UK can become a strong and dynamic maritime nation, as an island should be. It seems that the opposition parties have no such ambitions for our fishing fleet."

 

The report was politicised during its passage through the Parliament's Fisheries Committee when an amendment was inserted calling on the European Commission, "when drafting a post-Brexit agreement, to make the UK's access to the  market for fishery and aquaculture products dependent on EU vessels' access to British waters and on the application of the Common Fisheries Policy."

 

As a so-called 'own initiative' report it is unlikely to become law but nevertheless sends a strong signal about the Parliament's view.

   Conservative MEPs voted against.

Measures approved today have been hailed by Conservative MEPs as a major step forward in securing the long term sustainability of North Sea fish stocks.

The European Union's North Sea Plan, which was passed by a large majority in the European Parliament, is expected to come into force this summer. It sets limits on fishing quotas to avoid them exceeding levels regarded as sustainable by the latest scientific research.

Conservative MEPs helped shape the legislation and Fisheries Spokesman Nosheena Mobarik said it provided greater certainty for UK fishermen.

"The North Sea is one of our key fishing grounds and we must protect it from overexploitation if we are to safeguard the futures of our fishermen and coastal communities, "she said. "The North Sea Plan helps achieve that.

"Scientists estimate that if properly managed an additional 1.45 million tonnes of fish could be taken from the North Sea on a sustainable basis within a decade, showing that conservation and economic prosperity can, and must, go hand-in-hand.

"Consumers increasingly want to know that the fish they buy is from sustainable sources. These measures will reassure them that if it has been caught by British fishermen in the North Sea, it is.

"It's a classic win-win situation."

The main commercial species in the North Sea include cod, soles, haddock, whiting, plaice, saithe and prawns. In 2015 landings were worth more than £181 million.

The UK will take control of its fishing grounds once it leaves the EU and regards conservation as a key priority.

Baroness Mobarik said: " After Brexit we want our fishing industry to thrive and will work with our European neighbours to champion sustainable fishing. Fish do not recognise international boundaries and continued co-operation is in everyone's interests."

Senior MEPs have launched an urgent appeal to halt the execution by the Iranian authorities of an innocent member of a persecuted religious minority.

Led by British MEP Anthea Mcintyre, the politicians are calling on Iran to stop the execution of Yavar Mohammed Salas and order a retrial after he was sentenced to death by the Iranian Supreme Court last week.

She is gathering signatures from MEPs of all nationalities and across the political spectrum for a letter insisting Iran's leadership must stop the hanging and conduct a fair trial.

Supporters say Mr Salas, a Gonabi Dervish, was wrongly convicted of the murder of three police officers when the case against him remained incomplete and unsubstantiated. Eyewitness and photographic evidence establishing his innocence was ignored by the court, while an alleged confession was extracted under duress.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "It appears Mr Salas was denied proper legal representation and that his trial violated the Iranian constitution and penal code.

"We say there must be no execution and this man must be allowed his right to a fair trial. We also condemn the suppression of religious and ethnic minorities, and the persecution of Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran, and call for the immediate release of detainees who have been imprisoned because of their beliefs.
 
A new plan to protect our oceans from ‘ghost fishing’ has been unveiled today by Conservative MEP John Flack. 
 
Marine wildlife and coral reefs are being destroyed as fishing nets continue to trawl the seas long after fisherman have lost or discarded them. The nets 'ghost fish' anything in their path as they are carried by the oceans' currents. Mr Flack is recommending that these new measures are included in the EU's new plastic strategy.
 
The proposals recommend that the EU and Member States:
  • Set up port reception schemes were financial incentives are offered to fishermen for returning unwanted nets.
  • Incentivise vessels to use technology to track and if necessary retrieve their lost nets
  • Support research into biodegradable nets to speed up their development
 
Mr Flack, who is leading the European Parliament's Fisheries committee's response to the EU's plastic strategy, said: "'Ghost fishing' is a hidden problem doing untold damage to our oceans. Fishermen do understand the value of our oceans and respect them, but their lost and discarded fishing nets continue to plague our seas.  
 
"Not only do the abandoned fishing nets contribute to the world's growing plastic waste problem but they indiscriminately trawl our seas of protected marine wildlife, damage coral reefs and waste our fishing stocks.
 
"My proposals are bold and ambitious, but also offer a realistic plan to significantly reduce the damage done to our oceans by 'ghost fishing'."  
 
 
Comprehensive measures to prevent a repeat of the Dieselgate scandal today secured final approval from MEPs.
 
Conservative Internal Market spokesman Daniel Dalton - who led the legislation through the European Parliament - described the previous regulations as "at best patchy and at worst ineffective" and said his report introduced a strong, transparent system to ensure cars are safe and meet emissions standards.
 
"Consumers have been cheated and their confidence in the system been undermined," he said. "My aim has been to clean up after Dieselgate and ensure that in future any manufacturer guilty of mis-selling and deliberate manipulation of test results will be caught.
 
"This legislation delivers for car owners and the environment while avoiding unnecessary burdens on manufacturers. Safety and emissions standards will finally be applied fairly and properly across the board."
 
The new system is the European Union's main legislative response to Volkswagen's deliberate falsifying of vehicle emissions tests. It introduces:
 
* Checks on hundreds of cars of various ages to ensure they continue to meet emission and safety standards in real driving conditions throughout their lives;
 
* For the first time national authorities are required to fine car makers guilty of significant failures;
 
* The European Commission will oversee national testing authorities and have powers to undertake spot checks on cars across the EU;
 
* Vehicles failing tests will be subject to a rapid EU-wide recall system.
 
The legislation also demands that independent garages are granted access to new vehicle information previously withheld by manufacturers, enabling them to compete for repairs and servicing work.
 
Mr Dalton said: "This has been a key issue for me as lead negotiator. It will open up the market and make repairs cheaper by introducing greater competition between independent businesses and franchise garages."  
 
MEPs passed the report at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this afternoon by 547 votes to 83, with 16 abstentions.
 
The new laws must be introduced in Member States by September 2020.