New research from independent think-tank nef (the New Economics Foundation) reveals that the UK has, from just one cod stock, thrown away enough fish to support 711 jobs for 46 years.
The results show how more selective fishing could halt this waste and result in more fish, revenues and jobs for all.
The discarding of cod in the North Sea, Eastern Channel and Skagerrak is costing the UK economy, environment and society in wasted resources, according to a new report from leading independent think-tank nef (the new economics foundation), published yesterday, Monday 1 August 2011.
Fish are discarded because they are unwanted, not profitable enough or do not conform to fishing regulations. The report, Money Overboard: Why discarding fish is a waste of jobs and money, shows that there are benefits to be made from landing fish which would have otherwise been thrown away, but that much bigger benefits would come if fish were given more time to grow by fishing more selectively:
- £2.7 billion worth of cod has been discarded in North Sea, English Channel and Skagerrak since 1963.
- Of these, the UK threw away nearly one billion (£935 million) missing out on 711 additional UK jobs.
If discards had not occurred during this period, and left in the sea:
- The cod population would have been an average 13.2 per cent larger year-on-year leading to an increase in profits and jobs supported by this stock.
- With completely selective gear sparing the small cod, discarded fish, with time to grow
- Could have weighed up to 9.26 million tonnes, almost five times the weight at which they were actually discarded (2.14 million tonnes)
- Could have been worth £7.5 billion (£2.6 billion to the UK), compared to being thrown away for nothing
“Everyone can see that discards are hugely wasteful, but far more wastage comes from overfishing: taking more than the oceans can produce. Action to end discards must be accompanied with action to restore fish stocks,” said Rupert Crilly, environmental economics researcher at nef and author of the report. “Avoiding discards in the first place is more important than the creation of markets for unwanted species. Promoting the consumption of unwanted species is a risky gamble which could lead to more demand for fish and put more pressure on our fish stocks. Eating more fish will do little to end overfishing.”
Nef says the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) provides “a unique opportunity to turn this situation around and instigate a policy framework that will force a ban on discards and ensure compliance, for the sake of the industry and the environment”.
On 13 July, European Commission presented its proposal for CFP reform, including a Discard Ban for “quota” species.
The Commission’s proposal contains provisions for the elimination of unwanted catches of some commercially valuable “quota” species.
But NEF claims the “piecemeal” approach proposed by the Commission fails to address the problem of widespread discarding of non-quota species, providing no incentive to prevent these unwanted catches.
“We’re calling for a carefully implemented discard ban aimed at reducing unwanted fish and by-catch, not the creation of new markets for them. There is more work to be done to show how a discard ban would work in practice, but nef’s report suggests that the council and European Parliament need to support the commission in ending the unacceptable practice of discarding. Fisheries Ministers and MEPs have an important role in making that happen.” said Ian Campbell, UK co-ordinator of OCEAN2012.
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