MEPs have voted on a draft EU regulation on deep-sea fishing stocks in the North-East Atlantic during December’s plenary session. A vote in favour of a ban on all fishing activities in areas with vulnerable marine ecosystems was passed successfully. The European Commission will make a list of vulnerable ecosystems. However, bottom trawling should not yet be phased out altogether, said MEPs. An amendment calling for a general phase-out of bottom trawling after two years was narrowly rejected by 342 votes to 326, with 19 abstentions.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform package, including measures to halt overfishing and a ban on discarding fish at sea, Parliament's key aims, was approved in a final plenary vote. Labelling rules have also been overhauled, to improve information for consumers. The new legislation should allow for more sustainable fishing and take effect on time, at the start of 2014. Fishermen will have to respect the "maximum sustainable yield" (MSY), i.e. catch no more than a given stock can reproduce in a given year.