Celebrity Chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. (Photo: YouTube/nigeldupont1)
Fish Fight campaign aims to end fish discards
Friday, November 19, 2010, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has launched a new Fish Fight campaign to end fish discards.
Fishers in the North Sea chuck as much as 50 per cent of their catch yearly - almost a million dead and dying fish get thrown overboard because they are too small, of the wrong species or will cause fishing vessels to exceed their quotas, which makes landing such fish illegal, writes Lewis Smith for The Independent.
More than 24,000 people signed up for the campaign within two days of its launch. Their names will be added to a letter sent to European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki calling for a stop to the practice of fish discards.
Fearnley-Whittingstall intends his scheme to push the European Union (EU) to make CFP reform to halt discards a "primary objective" at the next meeting, reports The Independent.
Scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) say that over 60 per cent of cod in particular get tossed in the North Sea, and that the numbers grow to more than 90 per cent for cod younger than a year.
Damanaki is getting proposals ready that she hopes will provide an "intelligent stock management system for the 21st century" by 2013.
"I'm preparing a reform of the CFP and the discards will get special attention. They have to be, wherever possible, avoided," she declared.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF), commented by calling the discarding of fish a “madness” that underlines the need for urgent regulation reform in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) -- the core of the problem.
The difference between this campaign and those of the past, he noted, is that Fearnley-Whittingstall’s identifies the root underlying problem: weak regulation rather than the behaviour of fishers.
“We wholeheartedly agree that the discarding of fish is madness and we welcome this exposure to the public of the problems embedded in the present CFP rules, which completely fail to take an ecosystem approach to a mixed environment such as the North Sea,” Armstrong stated.
“We have for the past three years been innovating with selective nets, making sacrifices in support of closed areas (150 reactive closures so far in 2010) and rationalising the fleet - another 41 vessels will leave before next spring. But this demonstration of commitment and best practice has not resulted in any significant changes by the approach of the European Commission (EC) - almost the reverse is true,” he went on.
Armstrong said that currently, fishers must discard fish to abide by the law thanks to a multifaceted mess of rules applied to individual stocks plus inadequate scientific knowledge.
He said the results of negotiations before Christmas will be critical to establish the levels of discards next year.
“If the outcome fails to take account of the actuality in the sea and concentrates instead on another turn of the ratchet, then discards will increase immediately. Beyond the immediate future, CFP reform expected in the spring of next year must also play its part," he concluded.
- Report advises how to repair Scottish seas
- Ministers define priorities to reform fisheries policy
By Natalia Real