A proposed ban on deep-sea trawling narrowly failed to be adopted in the European Parliament yesterday, as a result of Tory MEPs & right wing allies voting it down.
Labour MEPs supported the ban, which would have phased out trawling below a depth of 600 metres, the most destructive fishing activity according to scientists, as a key part of their commitment towards a more sustainable EU Common Fisheries Policy.
Tory MEPs, however, joined forces with other right-wing groups to vote down the ban, and also voted to delay progress on the draft legislation, meaning better conservation measures for deep-sea species are unlikely to be taken forward until after the 2014 European elections.
Glenis Willmott, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:
“All the major scientific evidence pointed to the need for this ban, yet Tory MEPs failed to back the proposal.
“To prioritise a very small sector of the fishing fleet and this most destructive activity, when we could have created long term sustainability of our oceans, shows their lack of commitment on this issue.
“This is especially clear when we know less-destructive fishing gears can be used which cause no damage to the sea bed and support more jobs.”
Currently a small number of large fishing vessels, primarily from France and Spain, are able to cause enormous damage to the sea bed using an outdated and indiscriminate technique. The proposal would specifically ban the trawling method, whilst allowing other more sustainable deep-sea fishing to continue.
Such a precautionary measure is needed due to the high vulnerability of deep-sea stocks and the delicate ecosystems and unique biodiversity on the sea bed, which provide opportunities for scientific research.
Glenis Willmott added:
“It is now up to member state governments to take a position on the issue, and we are urging the government to show some commitment to protecting the deep-sea environment.”
News that incomes of Britain’s top bosses have risen substantially, while most people are still struggling, has angered an East Midlands MEP.
A recent report by Income Data Services shows that while the basic pay of FTSE 100 Directors has gone up by only 4%, and bonuses have actually fallen, their total pay has actually soared by 14%.
Glenis Willmott said:
“Once again we’re seeing one rule for the rich and privileged and another for everyone else.
“The IDS report shows that nearly two thirds of FTSE Directors benefit from long-term incentive plans. Incomes from these, which are based on stocks and shares, have risen substantially, so have more than made up for anything lost in lower annual bonuses.
“With bosses overall pay going up 20 times faster than the average worker, it’s clearer than ever that we are not “all in this together.”
“Britain may have come out of recession, but only the favoured few are seeing the benefits!”
A local Euro MP is calling for Europe-wide action on two major health issues.
Glenis Willmott, who leads on public health for Labour in the European Parliament, is calling for greater attention to be given to Hepatitis B & C which attack the liver, as well as to gestational diabetes, which affects women during pregnancy.
Every year in the European Union and the European Economic Area, there are over 14,000 cases of hepatitis B and over 26,000 diagnoses of hepatitis C.
Glenis said: “There needs to be much greater awareness of hepatitis B and C as urgent public health concerns.
“We want the European Commission, working with member states, to take the initiative in coordinating initiatives aimed at early diagnosis and wider access to treatment and care.”
On Gestational diabetes and obesity during pregnancy, there is particular concern as this can lead to higher rates of perinatal illnesses and mortality.
Glenis said: “Children born to women affected, face a higher risk of suffering from obesity and diabetes themselves, and pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes at a later stage.
“We are calling on the Commission to promote further research into this, and draw up an EU-level strategy to achieve universal screening of pregnant women for gestational diabetes.”
“Both these issues affect people across the continent, so it’s right that Europe should take a lead in promoting better public health.
A local Euro MP today welcomed the news that the government will now go ahead with plans to introduce “plain” cigarette packaging in the UK – reversing their previous stance.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s leader in Europe and European Parliament health spokesperson, said:
“Hopefully this latest U-turn will be the last, and the government will now go ahead and implement the decision.
“There is overwhelming evidence already that plain packaging works, and will save lives. Why wait any longer?
“Health professionals such as the BMA, and organisations such as the British Heart Foundation are to be congratulated for their work in campaigning for standard packs.
“It’s great news that the government has finally recognised the need to protect our young people and introduce plain packaging.”