New fish quotas will not resolve discards 'disgrace'
Posted, November 28, 2007 @ 00:00
Total ban on discards needed, not 10-year phase-in
Fishing quotas, included in European Commission proposals on annual fishing possibilities for 2008 adopted today, will set the scene for the annual Fisheries Council meeting next month.
Commenting on the proposals, Fisheries Spokesman for the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson MEP, said:
"An anticipated increase in Total Allowable Catches and quotas at the December Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels will certainly be welcomed by the UK's whitefish fleet and seen as a long-awaited glimmer of hope that stringent cuts and decommissioning over the past decade has at last paid off.
"Fish stocks, especially cod, appear to be recovering, even according to scientific advice. Slightly increased cod quotas will, of course, end the criminal wastage of good healthy fish that have been thrown dead back into the water by fishermen who had run out of quota. However, they will not address the wider issue of the one million tonnes of fish discarded each year in EU waters."
A report from the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee set to be voted on in Strasbourg next month was supposed to tackle the problem, but watered down following votes in committee, it is now too timid.
Phasing out discards over a 10 year period is not the way forward, said Struan.
"You either ban discards completely or you allow the present disgraceful situation to continue. The problem, after all, is not one of the fishermen's own making. It is the fault of the management system imposed upon fishermen by Brussels. Fishermen who land undersized or 'out of quota' fish are currently prosecuted and could end up with a criminal conviction and a hefty fine."
"If we are serious about tackling the discards issue then the first thing that has to be changed is the management policy. A much better system of management would be to rely solely on a 'days at sea' policy, where fishermen could land everything they catch in the 10 or 12 days a month they are allowed to fish."
Scientists would get a clearer picture of what fish are being caught where to aid conservation and recovery plans. Undersized fish and other species which would have been discarded could also be sold to the processing sector, which is desperate for raw material to supply the fishmeal and fish oil industry.
Struan submitted a series of amendments to the report calling for CCTV cameras to be installed on fishing boats to police a discard ban, but a narrow majority voted for an investigation into the feasibility of this proposition instead.
"If this report is approved in Strasbourg unchanged, then the 10-year 'phasing-in' period will see a further five to 10 million tonnes of healthy fish dumped over the side. This is not sustainable and represents a missed opportunity. MEPs still have the chance to amend this report. Let's hope they find the courage to do so."