EU ministers agree ban on fish discards
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Environmental groups have been long fighting for the protection of resources. AP photoEU fishery ministers agreed yesterday to implement a ban on discards - the wasteful practice of dumping unwanted fish overboard - by easing quota restrictions, much to the anger of environmental groups.
After talks on Feb. 26 ran overnight, ministers reached a “general approach” on the discard ban adopted in June last year as part of an overhaul of fisheries policy to put it on a more sustainable basis. The key principle agreed by ministers is that all fish caught will be landed, with none discarded, but fisherman will be granted leeway on existing quotas so that they can adjust over time to the new approach. Under the accord, there will be a 9.0 percent exemption from quotas for the first two years, falling to 8.0 percent in the next two and finally 7.0 percent while some quotas may be transferable. “These exemptions apply under strict conditions, in particular that all such catches should be fully recorded,” ministers said.
Valid from 2014
Ministers also agreed that some of the fish landed that otherwise would have been discarded could be used for charitable purposes. The changes will be introduced from Jan. 1, 2014 and be phased in through to 2019. It has been estimated that up to a quarter of all fish caught in the EU are discarded, with all dying as a result, making it a problem at a time when most stocks are under pressure from over-fishing.