* Aid to help fishermen facing stricter quotas
* Law to take effect from June
* Environmentalists welcome deal
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, April 16 The European Parliament voted
on Wednesday to hand out 6.5 billion euros ($8.9 billion) to
help the fishing industry cope with radical EU reforms to cut
the size of their catches.
The funding agreement for the years 2014-2020, backed by the
European Parliament in Strasbourg, is the final piece of a
series of fisheries reforms that EU member states have haggled
over since April 2009.
The other pieces of legislation include a commitment
finalised last year to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest and
to rebuild depleted stocks of fish such as cod.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs Maria Damanaki
said the package of laws demanded radical changes from the whole
sector and Wednesday's agreement would help fund a sustainable
She said the priority was to help small-scale fishermen and
finance equipment such as finer nets to help eliminate the
wasteful practice of throwing unwanted fish back into the sea.
No new EU money would be spent on anything that contributed to
increasing fishing capacity, she said.
Environmental campaigners voiced doubts that it was possible
to stop such aid being misused to sustain an overly large
fishing fleet, but said whatever its faults, the package of
reforms was a welcome step forward.
"The ball is now in the court of EU governments. The success
of this reform hangs on their political will, and on the
measures they now have to implement to help our seas recover by
reducing fleets, ending overfishing and promoting low-impact
fishing," Justine Maillot, Greenpeace EU policy advisor, said.
Member states are expected to endorse it over the coming
weeks and it will come into force in June.
($1 = 0.7234 Euros)
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by John O'Donnell and