Richard Lochhead

Scotland’s fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead highlighted yesterday, Sunday March 18, that without new measures, it is estimated that fleets across all EU countries could between them wastefully discard many hundreds of millions of pounds – possibly reaching the 1 billion mark – of fish over the next decade.

To take as an example the North Sea stocks of Cod, Haddock and Whiting – discards for those three stocks alone would potentially amount to some £350m worth of fish being wasted by 2022.

Speaking ahead of the EC Fisheries Councils in Brussels where the issue of discards will be discussed, Mr Lochhead said: “The disgraceful discarding of marketable fish dead overboard is often enforced on our fishermen by the flawed Common Fisheries Policy. 

“That’s why over many frustrating years I have been calling for action to stop this economic and ecological madness.  I am pleased that at long last Europe is now getting down to business and seriously discussing how to tackle the madness of discards.

“If Europe doesn’t get serious about discards and get radical – with regulations that are effective and enforceable – then we could face the prospect of EU fleets dumping up to a billion pounds worth of a valuable food resource overboard in the next decade.

“We urgently need a range of innovative measures that focus efforts on progressively eliminating discards at source – by stopping unwanted fish being caught in the first place.

“Different fisheries in Europe will need different solutions. So we don’t need simplistic blanket bans that won’t work and simply lead to discarding on land with unwanted fish piling up in quayside warehouses. We need to focus on what is removed from the sea in the first place by allowing our fishermen to land more of what they catch in return from taking less fish from the sea overall.

“As Europe takes forward long awaited reforms of the CFP and seeks meaningful action to cut discards, Scotland’s considerable experience in managing fisheries needs to be taken into account.  The consequences of getting reform of the CFP wrong could be disastrous, both for our fishermen and our fish stocks.”

The estimated figure of 1 billion pounds includes total discards of all species of fish from all fleets across Europe.