EU Fishing Committee overwhelmingly backs Duncan Discard plan
In a near unanimous vote the European Parliament’s Fishing Committee (PECH) has backed Ian Duncan MEP’s plan for a workable fish discard ban. Committee members voted 17 to 1 in favour of Dr Duncan’s proposal, which will give Fishermen two years to adapt to new rules banning the discard of fish. The discard ban is part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, brought in to stop caught fish being thrown back into the sea.
Dr Duncan has campaigned in support of the ban but raised concerns that the European Commission was trying to push the reforms through too quickly and without the proper legal basis.
Dr Duncan commented
"This entire episode has been a case of bad law-making and could have left fishermen in a legal no man’s land. From the outset, the European Commission was wrong in trying to treat all fisheries alike. I was clear that the pelagic species (Mackerel and Herring) could have been dealt with first, as they are a clean fishery, and then the more complicated demersal stock (Haddock, Whiting). Now all Fishermen have two years to adjust to the new rules and will be able to fish without fear of breaking the law.
"No one wants to throw back caught fish, least of all fishermen, but we need the right rules in place. The vote last night was another step down that road before the whole Parliament votes in April.
"I am however disappointed that my fellow Fishing Committee member David Coburn (UKIP) was not present for the vote. This could have had major consequences for the Scottish Fishing industry and as an MEP representing Scotland I would have expected Mr Coburn to be fully engaged in the process, especially as he was oddly in favour of the original Commission proposal."
The Discard Ban aims to resolve 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.
Notes to Editors
1. Dr Ian Duncan MEP is Fishing Spokesman for British Conservatives in the European Parliament. He was previously Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.