Key fisheries meeting could signal end to fish discards

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Overfishing, Fishing

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: on the brink of a key victory in the battle to ban fish discards?
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: on the brink of a key victory in the battle to ban fish discards?
EU government ministers are meeting in Luxembourg today (June 12) for key talks on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy, which environmental campaigners hope may lead to an end to the controversial discards policy.

The common fisheries policy requires fishermen to throw back fish that are too young, over fished or for which they have no quota. Many fish die in the process.  

Celebrity chef turned fisheries campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall told the BBC Radio 4 Today ​programme: “We want to see a discards ban. Half a million tonnes of fish – including prime cod – are thrown away every year because fishermen are over quota.”

Sometimes smaller fish are thrown away by fishermen anxious to reserve their quota for bigger fish, he added.

Rewarded

Fearnley-Whittingstall said fishermen should be rewarded for adopting more sustainable forms of fishing.

Speaking on the same programme, fisheries minister Richard Benyon – who is attending the meeting in Luxembourg today – said that a discards ban for pelagic (open ocean) species could be introduced by 2015.

Implementing a discards ban for white fish (such as cod and whiting) was more complicated, he said. “But we are one of the countries pushing for a discards ban. We know that working with the fishing industry is effective,” ​he said.

France, Portugal and Poland are thought to oppose a ban on discards. Some fishermen favour discards because it allows them to throw away lower value species and land  only the best and most profitable fish for sale.

Describing the Common Fisheries Policy as “broken,”​ Benyon said he wanted to see an end to “the top down control ​[from Brussels] of the fishing industry”.

Benyon was optimistic that stocks would respond to conservation measures. He reported a 140% increase in catches of cod in the western channel.

Thousands of tonnes

But Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “The only cod stocks that are not rated as over fished are in the eastern Baltic. We are still seeing thousands of tonnes of white fish discarded each year.”

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting Fearnley-Whittingstall urged people to contact politicians and to show their feelings via social networking. "This is a key meeting ​[today] – lines will be drawn that will be very hard to retract or adapt afterwards."

The TV chef has led a high-profile campaign to ban fish discards based on his series for Channel 4 Fish Fight. ​More than 650,000 people have signed a petition supporting an end to discards.

Celebrity supporters include: Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, Jamie Oliver and Jeremy Paxman.

Commenting on discards Paxman said: “If this is conservation, then I’m the Mad Hatter.”

For more information about the Fish Fight campaign, click here.

 

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Modern ERP system enables food waste reduction

Modern ERP system enables food waste reduction

Epicor | 05-Sep-2019 | Technical / White Paper

We’re all becoming increasingly aware and mindful of wastage in our personal lives. Food waste is already a significant concern for the food and beverage...

Listeria Management & Drainage: 5 Essential Steps

Listeria Management & Drainage: 5 Essential Steps

Aco Building Drainage | 26-Apr-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Listeria is widely recognised as a universal problem for food and drink manufacturers. To ensure effective listeria management and control, food and drink...

Minimise the impact of product recalls Post-Brexit

Minimise the impact of product recalls Post-Brexit

Epicor | 10-Dec-2018 | Technical / White Paper

The impact of Brexit on current legislation is a topic of much conversation and debate. When it comes to product recalls the uncertainty around what may...

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars