Azara Blog: EU fishermen throw a heck of a lot of fish back in the water

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Date published: 2007/09/14

The BBC says:

Despite cod stocks in UK waters being at risk, fishermen are being forced to throw thousands of tonnes back into the sea dead.
Since the introduction of the Common Fisheries Policy in 1983, the UK's white fish fleet has reduced by 70% while the UK's cod quota has reduced from more than 100,000 tonnes to just 18,000.

Other countries have also suffered big cuts. But stocks have failed to recover.

A recent report highlighted the problem that every year thousands of tonnes of cod are caught and then thrown back dead into the sea to comply with the rules of the European Commission's Common Fisheries Policy.

Fish which are undersize or exceed the permitted quota for particular species has to be thrown back into the sea but less than 1% of discarded fish survive so most is wasted.

Last year more than 8,000 tonnes of North Sea cod was discarded, that is more than 30% of the amount brought in and sold.

The report just released from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) shows that in "Subarea 7" - the English Channel, Western Approaches, Celtic and Irish Seas - 63% by number and 35% by weight of all fish caught are discarded.

Dr Joe Horwood, the chief scientist at CEFAS says:

"The large majority of cod thrown back are below the minimum landing size. This is set to deter fishermen from areas where small fish are but unfortunately small cod is found in many places so they will catch them.

The fishing industry agrees that the level of discard is an appalling waste.

"It really is a shocking waste. Not only are the fish killed unnecessarily - the economic value has been lost and the source of food to the consumer - but they are no longer there to reproduce so it is a double whammy. This is one of the fundamental failures of the cod recovery plan," says Doug Beveridge, assistant chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations.

Yes, this is obscene. And the EU has to sort out this appalling waste of natural resource.

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