Yesterday an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament voted for a gradual ban on the discarding of unwanted fish in the Skagerrak. Oceana welcomes this bold step towards ending the wasteful practice of throwing millions of tons of fish back into the sea.
“It is rewarding to see that the Parliament is sticking to defending an ambitious position on fisheries policy in general and on the discarding of fish in particular,” says Hanna Paulomäki, Oceana’s Baltic project manager. “Yesterday’s vote shows all EU Member States that change is possible and that it will happen.”
The adopted report proposes a concrete implementation of the discard ban approved by the Parliament on February 6th for the future Common Fisheries Policy:
- It applies to 35 species caught in the Skagerrak;
- All catches are counted against the quota;
- Fishermen must register and report all catches;
- Fishermen must improve the selectivity of their fishing gears, with the support of Member States through gear modification and increases in mesh sizes;
- Compliance with the landing obligation will be controlled through CCTV and electronic monitoring.
- Minimum Conservation Reference Sizes will be based on age at maturity.
Oceana is however concerned about some of the adopted provisions:
- The report falls short of establishing specific measures to ensure that the landing obligation will not create a new market for undersized fish, which would mitigate the incentive to improve the selectivity of fishing gears;
- The report proposes to systematically increase Total Allowable Catches for species covered by the discard ban, whereas Oceana is of the opinion that the problem should primarily be solved at sea through improved selectivity; and
- The report allows the transfer of quotas to the following year, which prevents the establishment of science-based annual Total Allowable Catches and can lead to allowing overfishing.
The text will now go to the Council, which still needs to finalize its position ahead of the negotiations. The ban in the Skagerrak would be the first discard ban in European Union waters.