EU ministers back fish dumping ban

 
Mackerel The decision comes after a long campaign that won big public backing

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European Union fisheries ministers have agreed to phase out the controversial practice of dumping unwanted fish.

After a tense all-night meeting, ministers said a ban on "discards" should be phased in, starting in January 2014 for certain types of fish.

It is a victory for campaigners who have demanded the end of a practice that has brought the EU into disrepute.

But activists fear that exemptions for certain countries could open loopholes to be exploited in future talks.

'Historic moment'

The UN says Europe has the world's worst record of throwing away fish. Almost a quarter of all catches go back overboard dead because they are not the fish the crews intended to catch.

The decision reached early on Wednesday morning was driven by northern European nations, including the UK.

They prevailed over mainly Mediterranean countries, which were fighting to protect the interests of their fishermen.

The ban will apply to pelagic stocks like herring and whiting from next year, and to white fish stocks from January 2016.

How a UK trial uses CCTV on fishing boats to crack down on discards

Spain, France and Portugal managed to cling on to some restricted exemptions, particularly relating to crews operating far from land in mixed fisheries where the cost of landing unwanted fish is deemed to be prohibitive.

These crews will be allowed to discard 9%, shrinking to 7%. This figure is too high for the northern nations and the European Commission, which say the public expects that in a hungry world no fish should be thrown away.

Details of how exactly the discards ban will work in practice with the quota system or its projected replacement will be debated later.

The British government, one of the campaigners for change, said it was disappointed that the ban was not absolute, but that last night’s result was an historic victory to end a "scandalous" policy.

It is one instance in which mass public pressure has clearly influenced the politicians, with almost a million people on the Online campaign site Avaaz demanding an end to discards.

UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said: “This is a historic moment in reforming the broken Common Fisheries Policy. The scandal of discards has gone on for too long.

“I am disappointed that some of the measures required to put this ban into place are no longer as ambitious as I had hoped but it’s a price I am willing to accept if it means we can get the other details right.

The technology on trial at Denmark's North Sea Centre

“The result we have achieved today is another step in the right direction and will prove to be good for both fishermen and the marine environment.”

The deal builds on a recent commitment to fish sustainably, and to allow more regional decision making. Many crucial details are still to be resolved over exactly what sustainably means, how the policy is enforced, how fishing crews are supported and how they are helped to buy gear that fishes more selectively.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 368.

    Recently the Government commisioned a report with its own scientisits, fishermen and other interested parties into creating Marine Conservation Zones. It recommended 127 being created in a link around Britain. So far the Government has agreed just 31 with no start date! Fish and marine environments need chances to recover and throwing away dead fish is crazy! So much needs sorting!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 367.

    Surely the fish that cannot be sold for human consumption can be sold as food for salmon farms or at a last resort fertilizer. There is no excuse for any dumping into the sea.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 366.

    Not so long ago the unwanted catch was always sold for fishmeal fertilisler,and good stuff it was too, nothing was wasted but long gone are the herring fleets. I was brought up eating herring in Scotland and still enjoy them but try find fresh herring to buy.........

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 365.

    The idea of throw back had a reason. It was hoped that fish industry would see the waste of time and money and stop hovering up everything in sight. Didn’t work because didn’t really affect their bottom line. And every man jack of us just kept eating fish, knew but didn’t care. Those who tried to do something were greeny-lefties. Now - ‘EU’s the problem. Another tin of tuna anyone’

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 364.

    This is what you get when a soviet/ totalitarian regime makes policy,idiocy! Was it not the EU's dictate that made our fishermen throw back perfectly good fish for no sensible reason? Just like Communist Russia and China used to enslave all intellectuals and businessmen in the mines of Siberia and the paddy fields of PRC and wonder why their societies went backward! EU dinosaur must be culled.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 363.

    The problem is human numbers. A couple of centuries ago if everyone one morning wanted a cod (or bison) in theory everybody could have had one. Now human numbers are greater than cod (any wild vertebrate, except rats?). Human numbers have to reduce, or capitalism has to go. Because of numbers and the reward of greed we are eating ourselves out of house and home.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 362.

    I see the EU is moving at its usual break neck pace getting to the nub of the issue and solving the problem.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 361.

    Under a true democratic system we could throw all the bad politicians back in the sea, attached with lead weights hopefully, can the EU pass a law on that

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 360.

    348.Marlais

    "...It won't change my mind I still want out..."

    ===

    Tickets to Nigeria and a host of other non-EU countries are cheap enough: what's keeping you?

  • Comment number 359.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 358.

    345.Billythefirst

    "...they're both dab hands..."

    ===

    Brill! Beware the ides of March (and other fishy puns)...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 357.

    North Sea plaice is at the highest population size ever on record and Celtic Sea plaice is very depleted. Both are discarded heavily. (www.ices.dk recent advice). Banning discards alone is not enough.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 356.

    re. #331.yowatusay:

    "Time for the Asians and Chinese which have been pushed to eating star fish and sea urchins mostly to rise and take charge because the west keeps killing most of the fishes in the seas for greed and not for food."

    Then presumably they'll no longer be eating the fins and throwing the rest of the shark away?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 355.

    "347.Dioge
    ------Imagine if people with huge tractors could drag great metal blades through the ground, turning it over, destroying the habitat..."
    Good point, man destroys and controls the world environment, farming does produce a lot of sustainable food though while trawling doesn't and turns the sea bed into a desert. But it is true that bad farming does the same on land

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 354.

    waken up censorship is alive and well ....no hys on b.gas eh?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 353.

    Fish & chips are out!
    Horse burger and chips are in!
    50% of fishing fleet have to go, allowing fish stock to recover! It´s a none brainer- even EU know that- all local politics "insiders" know it- but!!!!!! Why rock the boat!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 352.

    325. Ernie
    You didn't address my example of a proven solution: the privatisation and protecting property rights saving the Bison from near identical problems facing our fish stocks. If we did the same with the oceans, would not the fish benefit from the same results?...
    But again, as you say:
    "look outside once in a while."
    =
    Indeed, if only you did...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 351.

    We need control back of our waters for the benefit of the fish & the fishermen we could then have protected areas from fishing which would give time for the fish to breed & restock . We could keep the french & Spanish out of our waters as they just seem desparate to overfish & revive our own fishing industry, we are a island nation afterall, France & Spain are not.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 350.

    325. Ernie
    Thank you for the personal sledge. If you care to read the article before criticising my solution to your failed statist answer to managing fish stocks sustainably, you might have a leg to stand on.

    Continue reading Marx comrade, I'll stick to my books of freedom :D

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 349.

    As long as we are in the EU, the fate of fish is doomed. Would the EU stand up to the backlash from Spain & France if quotas that would re-establish seafood populations were to be enforced? Never. If we left the EU we'd get our waters back & could enforce it ourselves. If we want to farm in Spain, we need to buy the land. If they want our fish, they should pay us hugely for the right. EU+Fish=End

 

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