May 13 - Activists call for an end to overfishing and discarding of fish as EU ministers meet in Brussels to revise the existing fishing policy. Hayley Platt reports.
Fishing quotas is one of the thorniest environmental issues in Europe. And activists were out in force in Brussels at the start of two days of EU policy talks. They want to see an end to over fishing and the controversial practice of dumping fish back into the sea after it's been caught and killed just because it's the wrong species . Tony Long is director of European policy at the World Wide Fund for Nature. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY LONG, DIRECTOR OF EUROPEAN POLICY OFFICE OF WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE (WWF), SAYING: "Eighty percent of fish stocks are threatened or over-fished already, that is how bad it is. Fish are not getting to the age or maturity where they can reproduce so, as long as that is the case then the fishing populations are going to collapse as they are doing now." The campaigners want to see overfishing banned by 2020. They also want to see fines for countries that break the rules. But France, Spain and Poland say ending so-called discards will hit fisherman's profits as they currently throw back the least valuable fish. Maria Damanaki is the EU's Fishery Commissioner. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSIONER FOR FISHERY MARIA DAMANAKI SAYING: "Of course there are differences, of course we have been negotiating for months and we are going to negotiate more with two days and so on, but at the end of the day we need a deal." The Agriculture and Fisheries ministers hope to thrash out reforms that will last a decade. But discarding is more than 40 years old and previous attempts to introduce restrictions have failed. This is clearly a hard ship to turn and agreement may not be easy to achieve.