The European Parliament has voted not to support the European Commission’s proposals to rebuild Europe depleted fish stocks.
Right-of-centre MEPs secured a majority of five for an amendment deleting a call for fish numbers to be kept above the level necessary to produce maximum sustainable yield.
Supporters of the move claimed that the Commission plan would cause too much hardship for fishermen, who would be required to reduce fishing effort to allow more fish to breed.
But opponents accused them of destroying the long term future of the fishing industry.
Chris Davies, secretary of the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group in the Parliament, said that vote would be greeted with dismay by people across Europe.
He said: “We must have more fish in the sea if we are to have a successful fishing industry.
“Most people understand this and they will be astonished that so many MEPs simply don’t get it.”
Although the decision this week was not binding, campaigners for reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy fear that it sets a poor precedent with votes on legislation due to begin next month.