Parliament rebukes Commission for plan to ban fisheries in protected maritime areas 

Press Releases 
  • A more balanced approach needed for banning mobile bottom fishing in marine protected areas 
  • Reforms of the common fisheries policy  
  • Better information and harmonised market rules for the benefit of consumers and fishers 

MEPs criticise the Commission’s proposal to ban mobile bottom fisheries in marine protected areas and want reforms of the EU common fisheries strategy to address specific issues.

Following a morning devoted to debating the EU’s fisheries strategy, in particular the proposals conveyed in the Commission’s fisheries package, MEPs voted on and approved three reports on the issue.

A more balanced approach to define marine protected areas

Parliament, according a plenary vote on a draft report, today, thinks the Commission took an oversimplified approach when proposing the phasing-out of mobile bottom fishing in all marine protected areas by 2030, and calls for balance and the participation of fishers in the definition and implementation of these areas.

The report “EU Action Plan: protecting and restoring marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries”, approved in plenary with 402 votes, 95 against and 57 abstentions, says that the Commission action plan lacks coherence with other priorities and complains that rising prices or strengthening economic growth and employment have not been adequately considered.

Accounting for 25% of catches, a ban of mobile bottom fishing would have economic impact in many regions from the coast, hindering shellfish farming, say MEPs. They also anticipate that closing zones to this practice can lead to conflicts and put pressure in other fishing areas.

You can watch the plenary debate, including a statement by rapporteur Niclas Herbst (EPP, DE).

Reform the common fisheries policy (CFP)

The CFP “must continue to be implemented and, where necessary, reformed and adopted accordingly”, MEPs say noting that its socio-economic aspects have not been given due consideration. They point to pending shortcomings regarding the landing obligation and note that by-catches are inevitable, mainly in mixed fisheries. They therefore call for a “pragmatic” application of this rule, keeping current exemptions and encouraging quota swaps.

MEPs highlight that the management based maximum sustainable yield model is impossible to apply in the case of multi-specific fisheries. They invite the Commission to ponder as management objective “both optimum fish stock levels and optimum socio-economic performance of fleets”.

In the report “State of play in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and future perspectives”, adopted with 371 votes in favour, 92 against and 92 abstentions, the plenary asked the Council to set total allowable catches for longer than annual or biannual periods, to give more certainty to fishers.

You can watch the plenary debate, including a statement by rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES), on the evaluation of the execution of the CFP in the last decade.

More harmonised application of the Common Market Organisation rules

Taking stock of the policy for ensuring a level playing field of all fishery and aquaculture products sold in the EU, MEPs demand improving the information to consumers, including data on ingredients, date of catch, geographical fishing area and fishing gear.

They call for better traceability and a proper labelling system, and insist that all fish products - both from the EU and imported - should respect the same environmental and social sustainability standards. Approved with 415 votes to 10 and 129 abstentions, the report “Implementation of the Common Market Organisation Regulation in fisheries and aquaculture” also calls for the recognition of “cofradías” and “prud’hommies” as professional organisations.

Watch the debate, including a statement by rapporteur Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (Renew, ES).


Forty years since the creation of the CFP and ten after its last revision, the European Commission presented a “Pact for Fisheries and Oceans”, including an implementation assessment of the CFP, a marine action plan and a report on the Common Market Organisation rules.

In adopting these texts, Parliament is responding to citizens' expectations expressed in the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe - namely, proposals 1(1, 9) and 2(1, 7) on promoting effectively environmentally and climate friendly fishery, clear labelling and restore biodiversity.