Oceana welcomes the informal proposal of a gradual ban discard presented this afternoon by the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, to the Member States. Though the purpose of this meeting was not to make a final management proposal of discards, Oceana applauds this new attempt to discuss this issue and urges progress without further delay.
“The current lack of discard management is an unacceptable aspect of Europe's fisheries policy and runs counter to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, as well as some international commitments”, stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “Although calls for action have been made from all stakeholders, the European Union has until now, failed to properly tackle these issues and no advances have been significant enough to positively impact fisheries”.
Between the different management systems proposed to implement the discard ban, in which all catches should count against quotas, Oceana supports the approach based on by-catch quotas, Maximum Acceptable By-catch, rather than the effort approach. To comply with the by-catch quotas Oceana proposes the implementation of technical measures to reduce unwanted by-catch (e.g. improve the selectivity of fishing gear, change fishing practices that generates high discard ratios, spatial and temporal fishing closures…).
“In Europe around 1.3 million tonnes of marine fish are discarded every year, representing 13% of total catches. This unnecessary waste of marine resources undermines the health of stocks, threatens the long term economic sustainability of European fisheries, and impacts the balance of the ecosystem and its biodiversity”, added Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research at Oceana Europe.
Oceana believes that the implementation of a discard ban combined with a maximum acceptable by-catch will establish a strong legal framework to move the European fisheries policy towards a more responsible and sustainable management of fisheries. The upcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy provides a crucial opportunity to achieve this.