The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of major reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy.
It is hoped the move could spell the end for discards at sea and hand control of fishing policy to regional organisations.
MEPs today voted for a wide-ranging package by 502 votes to 137 when they met in Strasbourg. The changes could become law by next year following more talks with all 27 EU governments.
Chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, Leslie Tait, cautiously welcomed the vote.
He said: “We would certainly welcome rationalisation in a proper form which basically would mean that the countries affected by the regulations were actually the countries that are making policy.
“There have been over-arching regulations that have come out of the commission. They are completely impossible, and it must be rationalised.”
But he warned there was a long way to go before the practice of discarding dead fish at sea after they have been caught can finally become a thing of the past.
“Everybody wants to see an end to that. Why would fishermen want to dump good quality fish at sea?
“If you were asked ‘would you like to stop world poverty?’ the answer would obviously be yes. Of course we would, but its got to be done on a meaningful manner and a workable manner. A lot of discard is caused by regulation and not by fishing per se.
“In recent years the fishermen have done an awful lot to try to avoid the discard fish but it can’t be done overnight.”
He highlighted cod avoidance schemes which has kept vessels away from the “main abundance of cod” as an example of how fishermen have attempted to help avoid making catches that would have to be dumped.