Guardian ‘Lords say government failing to act as industry blames non-compliance on ‘flawed design’
About 1.7m tonnes of fish are discarded across the EU every year, because fleets catch fish for which they do not have a quota. Public backing for a ban on discarding edible fish at sea has been thwarted by the reluctance of the fishing industry and the government to put an end to the wasteful practice, the House of Lords has found. Discards were officially banned in January, after a five-year phase-in period, but the practice appears to have continued, with the government failing to take action, said a Lords EU energy and environment subcommittee report.
Lord Krebs, a committee member, told the Guardian: “Everyone thinks [the discard ban] is a great idea, and a part of sustainable fishing. But we found fishermen were not aware of it or not implementing it, the enforcement bodies were not enforcing, and the solutions not being used.”
About 1.7m tonnes of fish are discarded across the EU every year, because fleets catch fish for which they do not have a quota, or have already exceeded their quota, or because they throw back fish judged to be of low commercial value. The new “landing obligation” under the EU common fisheries policy means fleets must bring ashore all they catch, whether it is commercially valuable or not.
But this can mean fishermen run out of key species quickly. The Lords heard evidence that some vessels could run out of their annual quota as soon as February, while George Eustice, minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, admitted some could run out by June.
The evidence strongly suggested fishermen would not adhere to the new rules, said Krebs. “Although the landing obligation has applied to a number of UK fish stocks since 2015, we heard no evidence that fishers have been complying with it, or that any serious attempts have been made to enforce it,” he said. Click here to read more