Euro fish discard reform ‘makes no sense at all’

THE Government claims it has taken a major step forward in banning the needless discarding of dead fish in our waters but fishermen say it makes no sense.

EU Fisheries Ministers agreed reforms to effectively end ineffective micro-management from Brussels and address public outrage over discarding.

The policy of having to throw fish, many dead, back into the water has long been a bone of contention for Rye fishermen and fishing communities around the country.

But fisherman Paul Joy said he had no idea how it would work.

“It makes no sense at all,” he said, “At the moment we are only allowed to bring ashore about 1.4kg of cod a day.

“So if our discarding fish is banned then how are we supposed to land all these fish which will take us over our quotas?

“Can DEFRA explain that one to us because the only way a discard ban would work is if quotas are increased.

“We have had discards since 2006 and it has not worked at all.

Provisional dates published by the council would see a ban on discards of such as mackerel and herring by January 2014 and a ban on discards in ‘Whitefish’ fisheries, which is cod, haddock, plaice and sole on a phased basis starting on January 1, 2015 and fully in place by January 1,  2018.

Rye MP Amber Rudd, said: “I welcome this clear commitment to ending discards.

“This is a positive step forward and the beginning of change for the fishing industry in Europe.

“This is excellent news for local fishermen as it will allow more decisions to be made locally and will move power away from Brussels.”

But Rye Lanbour Parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen said: “Our under ten metre fishing fleets in Rye and Hastings are right to say that ending discards is not the real issue for sustainable community fishing.

Ending discards of dead fish, whilst a positive step, will not change the amount or quota of fish that our local fishing fleets can actually catch.

“The divvying up of fishing quotas rests solely with the UK government and this is where the change needs to take place. More of the fishing quota needs to be allocated directly to our smaller fishing fleets rather than the large fishing industry before anyone claims credit for guaranteeing a future for fishing in Rye. Our fishing community deserves better than this and deserves more than a quota that allows them to catch only half a cod a day. “

Sussex MEP Peter Skinner believes the ban on discards is only part of the solution to the problems faced by Rye fishermen.

He said: “It’s now up to the European Parliament to accelerate the timetable for CFP reform and give greater priority to sustainable fishing like that practised by Rye fishermen.

“More importantly the UK Government must bight the bullet and deal with the unfair distribution of quota. More must be given to small inshore vessels. The Rye fisherman is an endangered species that could yet thrive again if only given the chance to go out and fish.”