Fishermen going out in all kinds of weather, catching healthy fish and then throwing up to two-thirds of them back into the sea, dead or dying: a wasteful, immoral policy that angered anyone who cares about conservation.
It was a practice that never made sense, and this week it was agreed that it should stop.
At half past five on Wednesday morning, my DEFRA colleague Richard Benyon and his German counterpart, at the head of a group of like-minded nations, persuaded colleagues from other European states that the time had come to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.
The practice of discarding fish if they don’t fall into the requisite quotas, or for other reasons, will now be banned.
The final package will still need to be agreed with the EU Parliament, and the fishing industry has a few months to adjust before the ban begins for some species.
But from January next year, the discarding of edible fish stocks including herring and mackerel will be outlawed, and a ban for white fish stocks has been agreed from January 2016.
Already the deal has been welcomed as a “practical plan” by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
And I hope that the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who took the time to campaign about discards will feel a sense of pride that that their strong views have been championed and heard.
Another welcome feature of the deal is increased flexibility, so that now the countries around an area of sea can decide how it should be fished.
The Coalition Government has a long “to do” list of things we would like to see reformed in Europe, and we set out our plans in the Mid-Term Review this year.
We’ve had some really significant successes in the few weeks: a good deal on the EU budget; agreement to start talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the US, which would be the biggest trade deal in history; and finalising the deal on a unified patent court that will save UK inventors hard cash and bring valuable business to UK lawyers.
There are likely to be many more all-nighters in the pipeline as we work to forge alliances and win others around to our point of view.
But this is a step in the right direction, and a welcome one.