South East MEP Catherine Bearder has pushed for small-scale fishermen to be exempt from a new EU ban on driftnets in a vote this week in the European Parliament.
Driftnets are a type of fishing gear that trawls the surface of the ocean and which, when used on a large-scale, can have damaging effects on the environment, but which are also used occasionally by many small-scale fishermen.
Original EU proposals would have seen a ban on all driftnets, a move that would affect the livelihoods of many small-scale fishermen and was met with fierce opposition from the fishing industry.
However, following a European Parliament vote this week, it is hoped the ban will only apply only to the most harmful driftnets, particularly those used by large boats in the Mediterranean which can have a deadly impact on protected species such as turtles and dolphins.
Mrs Bearder commented:
"A blanket ban on all driftnets would hit many small-scale fishermen who are fishing sustainably and responsibly.
"It's right that we are tightening up the rules to stop the most harmful driftnets, which can be devastating to the marine environment.
"But restricting small-scale inshore fishing in the South East, which is amongst the most sustainable in Europe, would be completely counterproductive.
"I am glad MEPs saw sense this week, and will continue fighting for a sensible approach that protects both the environment and the livelihoods of local fishermen."