European legislators have apologised for the long-standing “vicious circle” of quotas that have devastated fish stocks in seas around the continent.

Maritime commissioner Maria Damanaki vowed to end the quota system, set by the Common Fishing Policy, that has seen millions of fish thrown discarded by fishermen.

“We cannot afford business as usual,” Damanaki said, promising to decentralise the implementation of European fishing policy.

“Maybe 10 years ago it was easier for us to close our eyes. We cannot do that any more because if we do, our children will see fish not on their plates but only in pictures.”

She said if the current system were left unchanged for another decade, just eight out of 136 stocks would be at healthy levels.

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