Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight brought to Brussels
Posted, May 31, 2011 @ 00:00
Brussels, 31st May 2011 -- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has brought his BAFTA winning 'Fish Fight' to Brussels, boosting a long-standing Conservative campaign to end the practice of dumping perfectly edible fish overboard.
Over one million tons of healthy fish discarded each year in EU waters are dumped dead back into the sea. The fish is perfectly edible or could be used for the fishmeal industry.
Conservative Vice-President of the European Parliament's fisheries committee, Struan Stevenson MEP, has welcomed the attention that Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall has brought to the issue. Today, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall is serving MEPs and officials a fish meal outside the European Parliament's entrance.
Mr Stevenson has however warned that the European Commission must not let itself be battered into a new 'one-size-fits-all' EU-wide fisheries management system, which could be harmful to fish stocks in the long term.
Mr Stevenson is proposing a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy that will re-vamp the system for managing fisheries so that decisions are made on a regional level.That way they can be tailored to every region and fishery based on the involvement of fishermen, scientists and stakeholders.
The European Commission will bring forward formal proposals to reform the CFP later in the summer. EU Fisheries Commissioner Damanaki has already announced (in early March) that she will introduce a ban on discards in phases, starting with pelagic species and eventually covering the rest over three years.
Mr Stevenson said:
"Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has really brought this long-running campaign into the spotlight. For years we have highlighted the criminal insanity and waste of perfectly edible fish being thrown overboard dead just to satisfy the EU's Common fisheries Policy.
"Instead of being compelled to dump fish over the side, fishermen should be compelled to land everything. It would become an offence to discard fish and every vessel should be fitted with CCTV to monitor compliance. Fishermen should be incentivised to end discards by rewarding them with extra quota.
"Such a system would provide two immediate advantages for the industry. Firstly, scientists would get a much clearer picture of what fish were being caught and where, and conservation and recovery plans could be devised or waters temporarily closed. Secondly, undersize fish and other species, which previously would have been discarded, could be sold to the processing sector, which is desperate for raw material to supply the fishmeal and fish oil industry.
"At last the European Commission is proposing an end to this madness. It must get the reform right or we could harm fish stocks yet further.
"The EU's focus should be on decentralising responsibility for fisheries management down to regional level. Decisions about fisheries management should be made in conjunction with local fishermen based on science, not by remote bureaucrats in an ivory tower in Brussels."