EU Fisheries Committee VP tells audience total discards ban will be 'extremely difficult' –

EU Fisheries Committee VP tells audience total discards ban will be ‘extremely difficult’ Published:  04 March, 2013

IMPLEMENTING a total ban on fish discards at sea in the coming few years will be ‘extremely difficult’ an audience at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, Argyll, was told by Struan Stevenson, senior vice-president of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament.

He told the gathering last week that discards were ‘nobody’s friend’ and resulted in ‘1.7 million tons of perfectly healthy fish being dumped back into the sea – always dead’.

Mr Stevenson said fishermen hated discards but if they ‘landed under sized fish they would end up with a criminal record’.

To try and resolve this there will be a phased in ban on discards from January 1, 2014 when a complete ban on discarding pelagics would kick in.

He said: ‘From that date all pelagics will have to be landed and taken from the quota. We hope to avoid by-catch as leaving the fish in the sea in the first place is the best way of avoiding discards.

‘We will be installing CCTV on board vessels to stop high grading with a ban on discarding white fish coming into effect on January 1, 2016 and a ban on discarding all other marketable species on January 1, 2017.

‘This is going to be extremely difficult to achieve but stocks with high survivability rate will not have to be landed – that would increase mortality which is not the aim.’

Mr Stevenson hopes what will emerge from these measures is ‘big meatier fish’ with funds generated helping fishermen cover fuel costs while boosting a conservation fund.

He told the audience waste would be minimal with ‘other unmarketable or immature fish going for fish oil or fish meal’.