Agreement reached on Fish Discard Ban but a month too late
Dr Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, has welcomed the news that MEPs and EU Governments have finally reached an agreement on a simple set of rules that will allow the EU's ban on fishing discards to be implemented.
Dr Duncan, the UK Conservative Fisheries spokesman, commented:
‘The initial stage of the EU’s discard ban came in to force on 1st January 2015. Given the great change in fishing culture that the discard ban has brought, there should have been clear rules and regulations in place by this date for Scotland’s hard-working fishermen to follow, yet here we are only now getting the house in order’.
‘This entire episode has been a case of bad law-making. From the outset, the European Commission was wrong in trying to treat all fisheries alike. Thankfully, due to the intervention of the European Parliament’s PECH committee, these errors were highlighted and subsequently addressed. Following tough negotiations between the Parliament, Commission and Council Presidency, we do now at least have guidelines on the books to guide our fishermen’s work’.
‘A central component of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy was to place more power in the hands of Member States and local advisory bodies. By placing power in the hands of those who know their waters best, we can ultimately deliver a set of laws that work for fish and fishermen alike. The Common fisheries Policy must be regionalised and quickly’.
The negotiations on landing obligations aim to deliver an end to the practice of throwing back to sea dead fish, as a result of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) quotas. With certain specific exemptions, fishermen would have to log and land everything they catch, providing valuable data on the state of local fish stocks; a central goal of the recently reformed CFP.
The agreement will also tackle issues surrounding the storage of fish that cannot be sold, with the aim to not further overburden Europe’s fishermen. Smaller vessels of less than 10 metres in length will not have to sort and log catches of less than 50kg, therefore removing an extra pressure from one or two man crews. When fishermen land fish that cannot be sold for human consumption, Member States will be responsible for storing, selling or disposing of the fish.
The controversial issue of whether CCTV should be installed on ships to monitor the ban will be left to each EU Member State. European Maritime and Fisheries Funds money can be unlocked for this purpose.
Although the agreement is intended to reduce administrative burdens on fishermen, EU Member States will have to report back on its impact each year to ensure it is not having a detrimental impact on Europe's fishermen.
The agreement delivers on commitments made during the recent overhaul of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, which sees more power devolved back towards local fishermen to take fisheries management decisions.
Ian Duncan is the Conservative MEP for Scotland was formerly Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation
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