Brussels hearing on discards

05 May 2011
Maria Damanaki. ©European Union, 2010

Maria Damanaki. ©European Union, 2010

Speaking this week in Brussels at the stakeholder’s hearing on discards, Commissioner Damanaki said that times have changed – and we no longer have time to waste when it comes to the CFP reform.

“Our stocks are in difficult position,” she said. “The great majority of our fishermen, specially the coastal fishermen are complaining that there is no fish in the sea.”

She said, “We are also faced with a strong public opinion of consumers. Consumers who are very well informed and want to know that they are not supporting wasteful practises when they buy fish. We need to acknowledge that many of these consumers think that we are moving too slow. Why do we need to acknowledge that? Because they are the ones who buy your products, because they are the market force and we cannot ignore them.”

She went on to say that it’s not just about consumers, it’s about “good old common sense” and that no one benefits when fish are hauled up and then thrown back into the sea dead.

Commissioner Damanaki said that we have to give fish back its good name, as it is a healthy choice and she said she doesn’t want consumers turning away from fish in the supermarket because they become uncomfortable buying fish.

She said we cannot keep a policy that obliges fishermen to throw away perfectly good food. “We need to find a new way and this requires an effort by all of us,” she said.

She noted that the fishing industry should devise ways in which the fish they don't want, is simply not caught in the first place.

She went on to say that she is aware of some of the initiatives being undertaken in the industry, including CCTV trials and new nets, however, “The problem is that those laudable initiatives are still scattered, localised interventions. There is no generalisation, no level playing field, and no proper framework across EU waters.

“And therefore despite the good intentions, our gradual and 'voluntary' approach has not given the results we had hoped for.”

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