Extensive reforms to the EU Common Fisheries Policy are vital to protect trawler crews across the South East.
MEPs today (Wednesday, February 6) voted in favour of a timetable aimed at stopping crews discarding unwanted fish.
Catherine Bearder, an MEP for the South East, also backed at the European Parliament long-term plans to safeguard and replenish fish stocks.
She said: "This was a chance to make sweeping changes to stop our oceans from being purged by big fishing fleets.
"Not enough thought has ever been given to the long-term future of fish stocks, the environmental impact or local fishermen.
"Today we took the first steps to change that."
Meanwhile, efforts will now also be made to shift fisheries management to a regional level.
Last month Catherine handed around 600 petition cards from South East residents to the EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki.
Fishermen in Eastbourne also explained how extensive changes were needed to keep crews in business.
Catherine added: "This is an historic opportunity and time for EU fisheries ministers to prove changes can be made. Sustainability is key to protecting the industry and biodiversity in our oceans.
"Sustainable small-scale fishing in the South East is in danger dying out. The EU has done its bit, now Governments must step up and save inshore fishing."