Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a British celebrity chef and food campaigner, has launched a campaign calling for EU ministers to make the elimination of discards a “primary objective” in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Calling discards – the throwing back into the sea of unwanted caught fish – an “insane waste”, he said discards were “an unavoidable consequence of the Common Fisheries Policy and the quota system”. Most fish are discarded because they are too small, of the wrong species or will take fishing boats over their quotas, making it illegal to land them.
In the North Sea, scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), estimate that over 50% of cod are discarded, rising to 90% for fish under one year old.
Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner stated in a recent conference: “I’m preparing a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the discards will get special attention. They have to be, wherever possible, avoided.”
The Fishfight campaign has received support from the UK fisheries sector. Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), commented by calling the discarding of fish a “madness” that underlines the need for urgent regulation reform in the CFP, the core of the problem.