Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Henrik Hoegh. (Photo: YouTube/ErhvervsraadLF)
Danish Govt , EU and Norway try to curb discards
Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The Danish Fishermen’s Association and the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries have formulated a unique deal on fisheries in the Kattegat to lower fishing mortalities on cod and thus help the stock there recuperate. Further, trials are now in progress in several European Union (EU) Member States to lessen discards, letting fishers land more of their catch in exchange for extra quotas that can be increased thanks to the EU-Norway fisheries deal reached last week.
The Danish agreement entails measures increasingly focused on slashing cod fishing mortality as opposed to the existing approach, and this implies ongoing cuts in fishing days.
In the Kattegat, the cod stock is at its lowest levels ever recorded. The agreement thus includes a key element mandating that starting 1 July all Danish trawl fisheries use a very selective fishing gear called Seltra panel in the Kattegat for most of the year.
Moreover, to protect spawning grounds, Denmark has shut down specific areas in south-eastern part of the Kattegat.
All together, the multi-annual agreement will successfully protect the cod stock in the Kattegat and safeguard the future livelihood of fishers in that region, the Danish Government said.
”By using selective fishing gear in the fishery for Norway lobster, the fishermen prevent by-catches of cod and small fish. In this way we protect the endangered cod stock in the Kattegat. It is an agreement that protects the entire stock and ensures good spawning conditions, and eventually leads to more fish for the fishermen,” stated Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Henrik Høegh.
The Danish agreement has been submitted to the European Commission (EC) for approval.
Regarding the EU-Norway agreement, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has welcomed the move aiming to stop discarding in its tracks, particularly pertaining to cod and whiting, and is urging EU Fisheries Ministers to back it at next week’s Fisheries Council in Brussels, Belgium.
“The current system of setting quotas based on what fishermen land instead of what they catch is indefensible. It leads to the unnecessary killing of millions of tonnes of marine life each year,” declared Fisheries Policy Officer at WWF Louize Hill.
“It is long overdue that we move to a system of catch quota management whereby fishermen catch less but land more. By using onboard cameras and fully documenting catches and the state of stocks at sea scientific data is also improved. It’s responsible, it’s transparent, it’s a win-win situation for both fish and fishermen,” she concluded.
The Scottish Government has also hailed the new EU deal struck over North Sea fishing, saying it will help protect both the industry and stocks despite quota reductions. Fishers will be able to land more cod next year instead of having to discard the fish once a limit is reached, said SNP ministers.
At the same time, cod quotas will drop by 20 per cent and there will be a 5 per cent diminution in the haddock total allowable catch (TAC).
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By Natalia Real