Green Party: The EU fish discards ban needs immediate implementation

Published on Friday, 15 June 2012 11:14
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

In the early hours of this morning, the EU Fishing Ministries agreed to a ban on discarding fish not covered under quota laws or caught by accident. The agreement also allows for regional management of fisheries, minimising harmful micro-managing from Brussels. Though a step in the right direction, the council failed to agree on a firm timeline for implementation of the ban. Once again, EU Ministers have accepted tentative baby steps instead of decisive motions for reform.

The Green Party has always firmly supported protection of the UK's marine and coastal areas, and the livelihoods they support and has the strongest Marine and Coastal policies of any political party. We continue to urge Richard Benyon, UK Fisheries Minister, to adopt a Common Fisheries Policy in support of a "maximum sustainable yield" for fish stocks and to promptly enact a ban on fish discards for the most imperilled species.

The earliest species to be to be removed from the discard ban, mackerel and herring, do not come into effect until 2014. These are not even the most severely threatened of species. Stocks of cod, haddock, plaice, and sole are in far more danger. Bans on discarding these species need not be fully adopted until 2018, according to the council. The Green party believes that the delay might be too long to save some species of fish.

Elisabeth Whitebread, Green Party policy advisor on marine issues said:

The fact that French minister Frédéric Cuvillier - who has been lobbying against stronger environmental protection measures to be incorporated into the Common Fisheries Policy - is pleased with this "discards ban" should give anyone who cares about the conservation of our oceans pause for thought. Today's Council agreement has so many loopholes that it is not actually a ban. The Council has agreed on having one date for commercial species and a later date for bycatch species. For the North Sea, the discard ban is proposed to be gradually introduced between 2015 and 2018. If you don't have a complete discard ban covering all species, the measure is meaningless. Once again the Council has failed to grasp the opportunity to show leadership and bring overfishing to an end.

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