Fish Minister Richard Benyon welcomes fish dumping ban –

Fish Minister Richard Benyon welcomes fish dumping ban Published:  15 May, 2013

THE  UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon was celebrating victory today after securing important new laws which prohibit the dumping of fish at sea.

He returned from a key meeting of fisheries ministers in Brussels, but before he went he pledged to veto any deal that did not include a ban. He said he wanted to drive through ambitious and radical reforms of the much criticised EU Common Fisheries Policy.

Emerging from the talks last night Mr Benyon said the “reforms” would now make discards “a thing of the past”.

EU fisheries ministers have agreed to detailed measures, including a ban on dumping pelagic fish, such as mackerel and herring.

Mr Benyon said the next step was for the European parliament to agree on the measures.

After night-long discussions, the ministers agreed on a package of reform which include detailed measures to ban the discarding of fish and legally binding limits to ensure fishing levels are sustainable.

They also agreed on provisions to decentralise decision making, which would allow member states more control over their own fisheries.

“I came here to secure an agreement that would be good for the UK and to head off those who sought to water down the changes we desperately need to make to this broken policy,” said Mr Benyon.

“We have worked hard on these negotiations, and I hope that parliament supports our agreement and brings negotiations to a swift conclusion. The wait is nearly over,” he said.

Eralier, in an interview with the Guardian Mr Benyon acknowledged that there were “forces [that want] to scupper this deal”, but said the UK would refuse to do a deal “that goes against our principles”.

While a discards ban is likely to come into force in some form, some member states want fishermen to have much more leeway in how much of their catch they are allowed to throw away as being unavoidable. The UK wants no more than 5% of any catch to be allowed to be discarded under any circumstances, but other countries have suggested as much as doubling this.

But Benyon warned that governments must work closely with fishermen in order to make the reforms work. “We are working closely with the fishing industry to do [the reforms] in a practical way,” he said. “I do not want to transfer a problem that happens at sea to landfill.”