European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has recognised the complex issues that need to be addressed to remove the scandal of fish discards.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has welcomed the position set out by Commissioner Maria Damanaki in the AgriFish Council in Brussels yesterday (March 19), particularly her recognition that the EU need to incentivise anti-discard measures and tackle the problem on a fishery-by-fishery basis.
Mr Lochhead said: "The madness of fish discards – where a perfectly good food source is thrown dead overboard – was for decades Europe’s secret shame. It is therefore significant that the scandal is now centre stage, with the fishermen and the public demanding action.
"I'm pleased that Commissioner Damanaki has set out a sensible way ahead, which I hope leads to the problem finally being addressed, with effective and enforceable measures brought forward that we can sign up to by the summer.
"It's absurd that EU fishermen have to discard up to a million tonnes of fish each and every year, otherwise they are deemed law breakers under the perverse Common Fisheries Policy. I welcome that the Commissioner has recognised this problem with the CFP, and requested Member States highlight those EU regulations that are causing discards – so they can be changed.
"I look forward to the Commissioner following up her words with firm action. We need a strict timetable for the roadmap towards discard-free fisheries across the EU, with radical reforms to the CFP.
"The factors resulting in discarding are complex and a fishery-by-fishery approach is the right one. It’s critical that we work closely with our fishermen to find solutions and put in places incentives to stop discarding, just as Scotland has been doing successfully in recent years."
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