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Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's TV programme, The Fish Fight. (Photo: YouTube/hughsfishfight/FIS)

Officials hope Fish Fight will help cause against discards

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Thursday, January 13, 2011, 00:50 (GMT + 9)

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead is using Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's TV programme Fish Fight on wasteful fish discards as an opportunity to describe Scotland’s measures on the issue. 

"The practice of discarding fish back into the sea, dead, is largely enforced on our fishermen by the European Union's (EU) broken Common Fisheries Policy (CFP),” Lochhead said. “This is a massive waste of a precious food and economic resource and flies in the face of Scotland's attempts to manage fish stocks sustainably.”

"On the European stage Scotland is speaking out the loudest against the discarding of marketable fish. In spite of restrictions imposed by EU policies, Scotland has pioneered 'catch quotas', whereby fishermen land all the fish they catch without wasteful discards, winning plaudits across Europe,” he told. 

Lochhead noted that Scotland has been working on enlarging its 2011 catch quota trials, but that it is being precluded from including all interested boats in the project to cut discards.

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"While I am continuing to pursue dividends for a Scottish fleet that is bending over backwards to adopt new conservation practices, discards highlight that a return of powers over fisheries policy to Scotland is more urgent than ever," he declared.

The CFP in 2009 propelled Scottish vessels to discard nearly 28,000 tonnes of fish -- around 25 per cent of the whitefish catch worth GBP 33 million (EUR 39.7 million).

Scotland’s Government had pushed for the EU to permit all interested vessels to take part in a second catch quota scheme for this year so that they can land an extra amount equivalent to 12 per cent of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for cod, rather than have to discard it. The country obtained a limited expansion of the catch quota trials, which should double the 17 vessels that participated last year. 

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The government received 58 applications to partake this year - about half of the whitefish fleet.

Fish Fight examines the three species most widely consumed in the UK – cod, salmon and tuna – and the challenges of preserving declining stocks plus possible solutions, reports The Yorkshire Post.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), hopes the renewed public focus on preventing discards will help spark a change in fish catching regulations. 

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“We welcome the public attention this programme will attract to the totally unacceptable practice of discards, which the Scottish fishing industry has long campaigned against. The message we have continually been trying to get across is that the current rules are not fit for purpose and do not legislate for situations where fishermen encounter an abundance of fish or highly varying proportions of different species of fish in our mixed fisheries,” he said.

The Scottish Conservation Credits system employs additional selective fishing equipment to avoid catching undersized and unwanted fish. Fishers involved are rewarded by getting more days to spend fishing at sea for other species.

Related articles:

- 2011 shows good possibilities for fishery management shifts 

- Fish Fight campaign aims to end fish discards 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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