Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The end of discards is in sight......

Ministers from across the EU are moving to propose new actions and reforms to end the hideous practice of discards in fisheries. As reported in the Guardian this will potentially be the biggest change to the Common Fisheries Policy in decades, aiming to eliminate the practice where as much as two-thirds of the fish caught in some areas is thrown back into the water, usually dead, as a result of the current EU system of quotas. When fleets exceed their quota, or unintentionally catch species for which they do not have a quota, they must discard the excess at sea. About 1m tonnes are estimated to be thrown back each year into the North Sea alone.

The waste of edible fish was highlighted in an influential Channel 4 television series, headed by the food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which helped to gather more than 650,000 signatures for a petition to end the practice.

THe UK propose three alternatives to the current quota system: a "catch" quota, whereby fishermen land all of their catch, monitored by CCTV cameras, but may have the amount of time they can spend at sea curtailed; changes to fishing gear to reduce discards; and promoting markets, both within the EU and for export overseas, for fish that are currently little eaten, such as dab and pouting. Retailers have also called for reforms to fisheries management including giving fishers the opportunity to develop long term management plans for stocks and allowing fishers to increase stewardship of the resource. In the 'cut and thrust' of  negotiations for quota and reforms across the EU states, we hope that the sustainability of the stock and the ecosystem prevails over short term economic interests.

For more information see:
BBC story on discards

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