Tuesday, January 6, 2015

06/01/2015: EU fish discard ban comes into force

The UK has hailed the first step towards a full ban on the controversial practice of fish ‘discards’ whereby fishing vessels tip unwanted fish back into the sea, Business Green reports.

January 1st marked the date when fishermen targeting pelagic quota species such as mackerel, whiting, sprat and herring will have to land all the quota fish they catch, with a similar rule for demersal fish including cod and hake set to come into force at the start of 2016.

The move follows three years of hard-fought negotiations in Brussels to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which was marked by a high profile public campaign to bring an end to the practice of discarding and tighten restrictions on overfishing.


However, many of the new policy proposals faced opposition from the fishing industry while the UK government reportedly led resistance to moves to cut the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea.

Ministers argued the new approach would allow fishing vessels to fish more selectively, helping to avoid discards and allowing full quotas to be caught. They also hailed wider reforms, including a legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels and decentralised decision making that allows member states to agree policy measures appropriate to their fisheries.

However, a two-year delay of sanctions for violating the new discard ban and the potential for the ban to be debated again later this year prompted accusations from conservation groups that the regulations are not sufficiently stringent.

UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice welcomed the ban but admitted far more needs to be done to end discards for good.

"The long fight to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy has been won and today marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fish more sustainably by ending the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish," he said.

"But our work is not over. While it's widely recognised pelagic fishing operations have relatively low discard rates we will continue to work with fishermen to help them adjust to the new reforms and make the transition as smooth as possible."

Read the article HERE.

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