Environment

  • The European Commission says around 80 percent of Mediterranean stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic stocks are overfished. (Photo: EU commission)

MEPs vote to end fish discards

19.12.12 @ 09:28

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - As EU fishery ministers launched negotiations on annual fish quotas amid protests from activists on Tuesday (18 December), euro-deputies voted on some 3,000 amendments to help recover dwindling stocks.

“The vote today marks a turning point after decades of complacency for overfishing,” said Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz in a statement.

Richartz says the only remaining obstacle are the EU fishery ministers who are expected to deliver their verdict on Wednesday on the European Commission’s proposal to slash quotas for 47 different species in the Atlantic and North Sea, including cod, mackerel, blue whiting, herring, prawn and haddock.

The Brussels-executive says around 80 percent of Mediterranean stocks and 47 percent of Atlantic stocks are overfished.

MEPs in the fisheries committee voted to halt overfishing by ending discards, a practice where fish that exceed quota, are too young, or are not marketable, are tossed overboard.

Around 60 percent of everything caught by European fleets is dumped, says the pro-green NGO the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“It cannot be acceptable any longer to throw perfectly edible fish overboard, dead. But an obligation to land all catches must not penalise fishermen,” said Finnish liberal MEP Nils Torvalds.

Under the fisheries committee’s proposals, fishing vessels would be required to land all catches starting from 2014 onwards.

The deputies also voted in favour of ensuring that maximum sustainable yields are respected and called for a system of long-term quotas.

Such quotas would also be limited from 2015 onwards to curtail overfishing and bring yields back to more sustainable levels.

Their draft resolution on EU fishing policy will go to vote in the Strasbourg plenary in February before discussions start with member states.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, EU fishery ministers will agree on the amount of fish that can be caught in areas of the North, Irish, Celtic and Iberian Seas and wider Atlantic region, and the resulting shares for each country.

Both Ireland and Scotland oppose any cuts, arguing it would results in the loss of hundreds of jobs and an increase in the number of fish thrown overboard, reports UPI.

EU ministers are reportedly in tough negotiations to find a compromise on allowable catch for cod between Norway and the European Union. Iceland and Denmark’s administrated Faroe Islands are also disputing mackerel numbers.

The commission’s annual fish quota proposals are calling for a 30 percent cut in some of the quotas.

But some ministers, like Spanish Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete said such a steep drop runs contrary to scientific evidence and would undermine the industry, reports AFP.