Norway's Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen. (Photo: EC)
Historic agreement to ban discards
Friday, November 25, 2011, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
The ministers of fisheries in Norway, Sweden and Denmark have signed in Stockholm a joint declaration forbidding discards of fish in the waters of Skagerrak.
“A ban on discards in Skagerrak marks a milestone in our efforts to ensure sustainable management of our joint marine resources,” says Norway’s Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.
“I hope this will also have a positive impact on other waters and that we are able to influence reforms in the right direction. We are now working on behalf of future fishermen and consumers of seafood.
“This is something that I have been particularly focused on, and I am delighted that we can now sign a joint political declaration firmly establishing that discarding of fish is incompatible with sustainable management of our common marine resources.
“We are seeing the issue of discards on the agenda both regionally and globally. In this context, Norway, Sweden and Denmark wish to be in the forefront by implementing a ban on discards in the waters of Skagerrak.
"While Skagerrak geographically speaking is a small ocean area, it is nevertheless important for those living around the coasts in the area and for fishermen from our three countries,” adds Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.
She goes on to point out that discarding of fish is a waste of marine resources and is one of the main factors negatively impacting fish stocks in the North Sea.
Norway has tried to persuade the EU to change its stance on discards.
Norway and the EU share and jointly manage marine resources in the North Sea and Skagerrak, and “therefore we are dependent on one another to achieve sustainable fishing management,” Lisbeth Berg-Hansen points out.
For many years, the greatest challenge to joint management between Norway and the EU has been Norway, which in its fisheries regulations specifies a discard ban and has implemented regulatory measures to avoid unwanted by-catches.
Under EU regulations, however, fishing vessels are instructed to discard fish that would breach quotas or are too small.
The EU has now put forward proposals to reform its common fisheries policy. The proposed reforms point clearly in the direction of a ban on discards. Efforts to reduce discards will therefore be a key focus area in Norway’s cooperation with the EU going forward.
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs