Fish discards. (Photo: OCEAN2012EU )
Pew Environment Group supports discards ban
Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 22:10 (GMT + 9)
The director of the Pew Environment Group’s European Marine Programme and OCEAN2012 coordinator has communicated approval regarding the European Commission’s (EC) approach to ending careless discards. The statement followed Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki’s stakeholders' hearing in Brussels this week.
“The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform is an excellent opportunity for the European Union (EU) to establish new policies that will end overfishing, including the wasteful practice of discarding,” stated Uta Bellion. “Such policies should prevent unwanted fish from being caught in the first place and require everything to be landed in port, except for those species with a high chance of survival, such as threatened sharks and rays.”
Numerous fishing activities undertaken by EU fishers lead to unwanted catches, and this presents a major impediment to achieving sustainable fishing in the EU and its fisheries in distant waters. Discarding is thus only a symptom of these deleterious fishing practices, pointed out the OCEAN2012 coalition.
“Preventing unwanted catches and tackling discarding should therefore be a priority in the context of the CFP reform,” the group said. “We also strongly advocate that the Commission addresses this issue and associated discarding by the EU’s distant water fleets as a matter of urgency.”
Bellion emphasised that the policy reform proposal ought to prioritise environmental sustainability so it can halt not only discarding but also overfishing.
OCEAN2012 is promoting a package to guide the EU fishing sector towards selective fishing practices for the target species and sizes to exploit both economic and ecological sustainability. The package entails:
• Fishing limits to reinstate and uphold healthy fish stocks above levels producing the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015;
• Catch quotas (instead of the current landing quotas);
• Closures of mixed fisheries when most restricting quota is filled;
• Discard bans;
• Minimum market sizes;
• At-sea observer programmes in person or with cameras; and
• Priority access to fish resources based on environmental and social criteria.
“Moreover, the use of more selective gear, real time closures and bycatch quotas are essential improvements needed in the way European fisheries operate after the CFP reform, as they all focus on avoiding unwanted catch at source. With these safeguards in place as the priority approach, the NGOs support introduction of a discard ban as a supportive measure,” the group said.
The CFP reform is scheduled to be released on 13 July.
- European Commissioner opens talks on discards
By Natalia Real