Damanaki considers banning discards

01 Mar 2011
Maria Damanaki is considering banning discards. ©European Union 2010

Maria Damanaki is considering banning discards. ©European Union 2010

At the first high level meeting on discards, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said that she is considering banning discards altogether, as part of the CFP reform.

Speaking in Brussels she said: “I consider discarding of fish unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort. But I would like to go further… Therefore, I am considering proposing a discard ban as part of the CFP reform proposals.”

She said that continuing with the current policy will put the production capacity of marine ecosystems is at risk, and that discarding will erode the economic basis of fishermen and coastal regions will be eroded. She went on to say that fishermen and their families will pay the bill and consumers will turn away from fish, because, sooner or later, it will receive a negative image of waste of natural resources.

She outlined that idea, saying it would have to be a “gradual approach”. “We can start with the pelagic fisheries, and then cover a few important demersal mixed fisheries after a short phase in period. The list of species covered by a discard ban could then be enlarged year by year,” she said.

She then went on to say that the question then is which management system to choose, in order to manage fish stocks. One possibility would be to only manage mixed fisheries with an effort system. The idea is to preserve relative stability by translating the relative stability in quotas into a relative stability in effort for mixed fisheries. Such a management system is relatively simple as all catches would need to be landed. Control is also easy as the time spent at sea can be easily controlled by the vessel monitoring system.

Another possibility is the catch quota system with by catch quotas. All catches would have to be counted against quotas and then later against the by catch quotas. In such a system it would also be necessary that Member States allocate quotas more in line with the real possible catches of their vessels. A catch quota system would need guarantees that it would work, because it will be more complicated.

She said: “Whatever system is chosen in the end, whether it is effort management or catch quotas, a discard ban needs consistency in all rules of the CFP. We need consistency in market measures. Also the control pillars of the CFP, will be very important. We will need CCTV or observers on board vessels above a certain length.”

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