Friday, 19 February 2010

Fish and fishing discards

The problem of fishing discards has existed if not since the Common Fisheries Policy was set up (just a few hours before negotiations began with the UK, Ireland and Denmark, the countries with the richest fishing reserves, in 1970) then at least since Spain and Portugal joined when various derogations and quotas were negotiated.

Despite Lord Davies's recent dishonest response to the Lady Mar in the House of Lords, those discards are not the result of market forces but of EU quotas.

Nor was his estimate of discards particularly accurate. Back in January 2008 Lord Pearson or Rannoch asked this Starred Question:
How many tonnes of dead fish are thrown back into the sea each year under the European Union’s common fisheries policy; and what prospect they see of ending this practice.
HMG in the person of Lord Davies of Oldham preferred to clear its throat instead of giving an answer that they know would shock most people.
My Lords, no estimates exist for the overall amount of discards in European Union fisheries. However, there is a general recognition that this problem needs to be accurately addressed. We are working with the fishing industry, as well as with the Commission and other member states, to find appropriate solutions that affect the particular circumstances of individual fisheries.
We all know how successful that working with other member states and the Commission has been for the last thirty-odd years. However, it is not entirely true to say that there are no estimates for discards as Lord Pearson pointed out in his follow-up comment:
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. Let us hope that this proposed reform, like others before it, does not end up in the long seaweed.

When the Minister says that there are no official estimates, is he aware that Fisheries Commissioner Borg has estimated that 880,000 tonnes of fish are thrown back dead every year? If the Government accept that an articulated lorry holds 42 tonnes of fish, do they agree that the EU’s dead fish amount to 20,000 articulated lorries, which would fill the Palace of Westminster, and Whitehall, several times over? Will the noble Lord tell us precisely who has been blocking reform of this policy for so many years, and how?
That reform that is not wanted by other countries whose fish is not being destroyed, is still being blocked. As we know from that more recent debate (discussed here) only countries who run their own fishing industry can create sensible policies. But it is nice to think of all those articulated lorries discarding dead fish around Whitehall.


  1. "My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. "

    Funny that the EU have no idea how many dead fish they chuck back in. They haven't even had their accounts audited yet, since they've been in existence.

  2. Oh, I thought it already had dumped dead fish in Westminster. Where's the smell coming from, then?

  3. I am an ex fisherman , I left the industry several years ago , our vessel scrapped to meet the brussels agenda of destroying the British fishing fleet , during my years fishing it was common practise to have to dump tons perfectly good fish just to avoid prosecution , the species we were dumping at that time was saithe . Which at the same time , french , german and spanish trawlers caught almost without restriction . Today 15 years later the only thing that has changed is the remnants of our once proud industry are now having to dump different species such as cod , Yes Cod ! . The insanity of trying to enforce a species by species individual quota in a mixed fishery . Total madness and a few more years of it and the british fleet will be gone in its entiity .

  4. The reference to electronic on-ship measurment is very significant, this refers to net size and is causing havoc within the fleet at present, the old system for measuring net mesh size consisted of a metal instrument which was the exact size of the legal mesh size and has been used to good effect for many years, this has changed to an electronic measuring device which is inaccurate and does not take into account the fact that the net shapes destort when they are out of the water and contract--this is resulting in skippers loosing days at sea and facing prosecution with massive fines.

    Is this a UK initative or is it EU inspired and is it a pilot scheme or law
    It is being seen as just another way to destroy the British fishing industry while other EU countries take thier fishermen by the hand and protect and support them.

    As a UKIP Councillor here in Northern Ireland representing a fisheries dependent community I would appeal to all our UKIP party members to lobby at every oppertunity for the British industry and I thank Lord Pearson for his efforts
    Cllr Henry Reilly