The House of Lords EU Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Enviroment and Energy has written to Environment Minister Richard Benyon and the European Commission to warn that unless the EU fish discard ban is implemented effectively there is a risk that fish will have to be landed which cannot be sold and which might otherwise have survived if returned to the water
The Committee has set out a number of areas where futher work is required to ensure the discards ban is effectively implemented. These include:
- Sufficient financial resources for local decision making
- Improving links between marine science research and industry
- Focus on compliance with the ban rather than heavy handed enforcement
- Public consumption of a wider variety of species
Commenting Baroness Scott of Needham Market, Chair of the Committee said:
"While we welcome the move to implement a discard ban in the EU it will be pointless if it simply moves wastage from sea to land. To ensure that doesn't happen, the policy must be implemented properly and the fishing industry must be fully engaged in developing the new rules that are required for its implementation.
There is evidence that some species of fish stand a good chance of surviving if returned to the sea after being caught. We need futher research in this area to ensure the discard ban isn't counterproductive to improving fish stocks. That research must involve the fishing industry so it produces new information and doesn't become an academic exercise.
It is important that all existing rules and regulations are reviewed to ensure that they are compatible with the discard ban. These include rules on the amount of time that vessels spend at sea. Excessive restrictions like that will restrict the flexibility for vessels to move to other fishing grounds if they find, for example, that they are catching too many young fish.
We were pleased to hear that the fishing industry are strong supporters of the ban and recognise that compliance is good for their futures and for the sustainability of the industry. Clearly, though, implementation must take into account the reality of fishing businesses and how they work."