EU commercial sector fights to keep discards

| March 16, 2012

Just how far out of step are the commercial fishing sector willing to be ?

Efforts to ban the practices of highgrading and discarding edible fish at sea could be thwarted by a group of EU member states which are planning to block reforms aimed at conserving dwindling fish stocks.

The EU fisheries chief, Maria Damanaki, had backed a change to the European common fisheries policy (CFP) to ban discards but a group of member states led by France and Spain, with industrial-scale vessels want to keep the present arrangement because by throwing back lower value, though edible, fish they can maximise their profits.

Spain has the EU’s biggest fleet and receives more of the EU’s fishing subsidies than any other member state.

The group will attempt to pass a “declaration” allowing discards to continue indefinitely, dismissing the ban as “unrealistic” and ” too prescriptive” – if successful, any hopes of banning discards would effectively be lost

Discarding results in as much as two-thirds of the fish caught being thrown back in the water, with over 2 Billion fish  estimated to be thrown back each year in the North Sea alone.

According to Ruth Davis, chief policy adviser for Greenpeace UK: “This declaration shows that fishing ministers in some European countries will stop at nothing to slow down reform of the CFP. In doing so, they’re defending the interests of a minority of extremely powerful, greedy, industrial-scale fishing companies at the expense of many thousands of sustainable and small-scale fishers.”

Richard Benyon, the UK fisheries minister, said: “We do not support this declaration and will pressing the EU hard to end the wasteful practice of discarding fish.”

Category: Commercial, EU Government News

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