Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney has welcomed today's vote in the European Parliament, which seeks to amend the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mr Coveney said the vote before the end of the year enables the Irish Presidency of the European Council to quickly engage on the matter.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has power of co-decision on the CFP and today the Committee on Fisheries voted by 13-10 to amend it.

Fianna Fáil MEP Pat "the Cope" Gallagher, who tabled several amendments regarding Ireland, welcomed the vote as a first but significant step.

Mr Gallagher said the committee position on discards, where fish are thrown back into the sea, would lead to a more realistic approach to the matter.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Coveney said while he would not necessarily support all of the parliament's proposals, the clarity on the position of MEPs was welcome.

Mr Coveney is continuing to participate in the fisheries committee meeting on setting the quotas for 2013. An outcome is not expected until the early hours of Thursday morning.

The minister has described the negotiations as the most difficult in years.

The Irish Wildlife Trust has expressed concern that ministers are set to ignore science again when it comes to determining quotas for cod, haddock, prawns, whiting and sole in the Irish Sea.