European MEPs have voted on a number of restrictions which could reduce intensive overfishing and improve declining fish stocks
New limits will ensure fishing cannot exceed quotas recommended by scientists, ensuring fish stocks remain sustainable.
The North-Sea Multi Annual Plan applies mainly to the North Sea around Britain, which supplies most of Europe’s fish.
It protects species such as cod and haddock and applies sustainability restrictions, such as requiring fisherman to bring all of their catch back to shore.
The area is now becoming overfished and the new restrictions could ensure a haul of an extra 1.45 million tonnes of fish a year within the next decade.
Environmentalists fear that without such restrictions fish stocks could be drastically depleted.
Naturally, the process of the United Kingdom leaving the EU is complicating things.
The new restrictions carry implications for the UK fishing industry beyond the country leaving the EU.
The UK has threatened to leave the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as part of Brexit in the past, with trawlerman making up a loud voice among critics of the EU.
However, Britain is cooperating with the EU over the new proposals.
One British official working on the plans said;
“Not the whole sea belongs to the U.K. When we take back control, there will still be EU waters in the North Sea.”
“In our view, it would be impractical and crazy to have an EU plan and a U.K. plan for a bit of North Sea waters.”
There are some fears of opposition from British trawlermen, but officials are agreeing that a common deal is the best course of action.
However, if Britain opts to leave the CFP fish stocks could still face increased pressure.
British fishers could pressure the government to ease off restrictions and allow for more intensive fishing.
This could lead to the EU lifting restrictions in a bid to compete with British industries.
The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has praised the legislation, however, and said that the UK will work with Europe to secure fish stocks even after we leave the EU.