Fish discards exemptions soar before ban

fish trawl discards

The use of exemptions to EU restrictions on fish discards by EU trawlers has risen by 300% in the last year, according to research released three weeks before a ban is due to take full effect.

The dispensation allowing fishing fleets to discard up to 7% of their catches will continue after January 1 2019, undermining the “landing obligation” on boats to retain and bring to port all seafood catches, according to a report by WWF Europe.

The group wants to see more selective fishing gear used to cut discards, along with more remote electronic monitoring of the seas.

The landing obligation is part of a wider reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP) coming into force by 2020 that will set maximum sustainable yields for all fish stocks, and other environmental goals.

So far, only one of the reformed policy’s 46 measures has been universally applied: the establishment of an administrative system for registering fishing vessels.

Samantha Burgess, the WWF report’s author, said: “EU member states have had ample time to implement the provisions of the reformed CFP but have demonstrated an unacceptable lack of political will towards sustainable fisheries management.”

“This destructive trend must urgently be reversed, especially in coastal communities where fisheries contribute to community livelihoods and food security.”

WWF said 74% of Europe’s assessed fish and shellfish populations were in a poor state. Barely half of conservation rules have been even partially applied and many fish stocks remain below sustainable levels, especially in the Baltic. The environmental watchdog’s report was based on scientific reviews and data covering 397 fish species.

A European commission spokesman said the study showed the EU’s approach to sustainability was making progress “but there is still more work to do”.

This article was originally published as Use of fish discard exemptions by EU trawlers soars before ban at The Guardian on 11/12/18.

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