Young's calls for a ban on discards –

Young’s calls for a ban on discards Published:  20 November, 2007

UK BREAKFAST time TV today concentrated on cod discarding off the English coast. Now seafood major Young’s has called for a ban on all fish discarding.

The BBC breakfast time programme laid particular emphasis on cod plus some other white fish discarding off Ramsgate, underlining that the practice was widespread throughout the UK fleet.

Now Young’s say there should be a complete ban on discarding.

The seafood company said the practice is common in European fisheries, but is a “senseless waste of resources” and a barrier to proper fisheries management.

In a press release, Young’s says: “We recognise that this represents a huge challenge to the European seafood industry under current regulatory and market conditions and that significant changes in governance and infrastructure will be required. However, we do not believe it is possible to implement truly effective management regimes unless all fish landed are properly recorded – and this cannot be achieved whilst discarding continues.

“We support the initiative of the EU to introduce a policy to reduce unwanted by-catches and eliminate discards in European fisheries and fully endorse the impact assessment and consultation process designed to bring this to reality. We are also engaged with the Seafish Industry Authority group, which is working to develop practical discard reduction proposals and promote best practice within UK fisheries.

“Improved scientific data is an important precursor to the regulatory change, which will be required to achieve a fishery environment with zero discarding. We therefore engage with scientists, fishery managers and fishermen to develop a greater common understanding of this subject. We particularly support research into enhanced technical conservation measures at sea to minimise the wider ecological impact of fishing activities. We also encourage wider use of research to provide better understanding of individual fisheries – such as environmental mapping and consideration of factors such as species migration and spawning activity.

“Unless significant and far reaching scientific, regulatory and infrastructure enhancements are developed, the biologically destructive practice of discarding dead fish at sea will remain an accepted industry practice. Young’s believes that greater vision is required in order to achieve a more selective fishing industry which can remain viable, profitable and sustainable whilst landing the whole catch.”

Discarding has been an issue for years in the UK fleet as the only way to comply with quotas, but the practice has come more sharply into focus with reports that significant dumping of cod has been taking place at a time when the North Sea cod is showing signs of recovery.

Initiatives such as the voluntary Scottish scheme to avoid cod concentrations so as not to hinder cod recovery are already in place against the background of a bid to increase the North Sea total allowable catch level by 15% for next year to cut discarding of the prime species.

Bertie Armstrong, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said today that cod discarding was a problem caused by the abundance of cod, something fishermen had been reporting for some time.

But scientific advice on cod was behind what fishermen had been saying on stock health although on a more positive note, the Scottish trail-blazing voluntary cod avoidance scheme was now under discussion with other nations in the hope of more widespread adoption.

“We have seen this issue coming for some considerable time and we have been working on solutions, although discarding is not widespread in the Scottish fleet.” He added that the reports today, on the eve of resumption of quota talks between the EU and Norway, bolstered the case for a 15% total allowable catch increase for North Sea cod next year.

*UK Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw today called for a fair balance between the needs of conservation and the livelihoods of hard-pressed fishing fleets.

He made clear there was scope for boosting fish catches by cracking down hard on the “immoral” practice of dumping dead unwanted fish back in the sea.

“The crisis of throwing fish back is immoral.” said Mr Shaw.

“We don’t want that to continue so we have to find a balanced range of

measures to ensure that the fishing industry is sustainable and that we have the conservation measures in place.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.