Party: The EU fish discards ban needs immediate implementation


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


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.