£40 MILLION ‘MADNESS’ OF DUMPED FISH Published:  25 September, 2008

Fishermen in Scotland are being forced to throw away up to £40 million worth of fish every year, fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said today.

European rules mean almost a million tonnes of fish are discarded in the North Sea every year, with around 100,000 tonnes dumped by Scottish boats.

That means for every North Sea cod caught and landed by Scots fishermen another has to be thrown away.

The monumental waste was revealed as Mr Lochhead brought together fishermen, scientists and conservationists at a Discards Summit in Edinburgh to work out how to radically reduce the dumping of marketable fish at sea.The summit marks the start of a campaign by the Scottish Government to change some of the European rules which force trawlermen to throw away fish which could be landed and sold.

Mr Lochhead said: ‘Discards are bad news. Bad news for fishermen, bad news for consumers and bad news for the environment.

‘I am appalled and frustrated at the scandalous level of waste and the economic and environmental madness discards represent. In what other industry would it be acceptable to throw away so much of what is produced?

‘Responsible and hard-working skippers are heartbroken because they have to throw away precious fish. That is why they, like me, are determined to tackle the scourge of discards.

‘The scale of the problem beggars belief. Crazy European regulations mean that at a time of worldwide food shortages and higher food prices at home, our fishermen are having to throw away up to £40 million worth of fish for which there is a perfectly good market.

‘We have an obligation to act and, hot on the heels of other innovative conservation measures adopted by our fishermen, we are once again ready to take the lead in Europe. Today’s summit shows there is a consensus on the need to tackle one of the biggest flaws in the Common Fisheries Policy.

‘What we need to do now is find solutions. Clearly, given the current European rules and regulations we can’t do it alone but I am confident that Scotland can play a leading role in finding a way of allowing fishermen to land much more of the fish which they catch but are currently forced to discard. This would benefit fishermen, consumers and the environment.’

John Buchan, skipper of the fishing boat Fairline based in Peterhead, said: ‘This is a golden opportunity to try and resolve this problem once and for all and I am pleased to see the Scottish government showing concern and taking a lead. It is very frustrating for skippers and their crews when they have to discard beautiful, high-quality fish

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