People make a difference on new fish rules.

A campaign to change European fishing rules and prevent the collapse of fish stocks in British waters, backed by thousands of people in the East Midlands, has been boosted this week by an announcement in Brussels.

The Fish Fight campaign, promoted by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, has called for EU fisheries policies to be reformed to stop the practice of discards, in which dead fish are thrown back into the sea in order to avoid less valuable produce counting against a vessel’s quota.

East Midlands MEP Glenis Willmott welcomed the announcement by the European Commission that it intends to take action.

She said: “The public campaign is having an impact, with the European Commission now recognising that we can’t go on like this.

“There’s still a long way to go to get effective reform, but the European Commission is talking about major changes to the Common Fisheries policy, thanks to the efforts of people from the East Midlands and around the country.

While today’s announcement demonstrates the European Commission’s intention to take action on the issue, there are still months of negotiations to come, so the final outcome of any reforms are not yet clear.

Glenis said: “Though the Commission proposal isn’t perfect, it is an important first step. Up until now, there has been the very real possibility of many fish species disappearing from our seas as a result of the existing policy, and Labour MEPs have been calling for reform for some considerable time.

“The Commissioner has shown that she is willing to challenge the business-as-usual approach that has prevented proper reform in the past. Labour MEPs will do all we can to keep up the pressure for real and effective change.”

“We will be examining the proposals in detail over the coming months, and see how they can be built on to deliver a fisheries policy that is good for fish and good for the long-term interests of our fishermen.

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