3.1 billion euros lost from cod discards over the past 25 years

Research by the independent think tank the new economics foundation (nef) shows that between 1963 and 2008, 2.1 billion cod were thrown overboard –  discarded – in the North Sea, Eastern Channel and Skagerrak, amounting to a loss of 3.1 billion euros and many hundreds of jobs.

The report, Money Overboard: Why discarding fish is a waste of jobs and money, shows that there are benefits to be made by landing all fish caught rather than discarding them. But that the benefits would be greater if fishing was carried out more selectively and fish left in the sea for longer. For example, if catches of small fish had been avoided, leaving them time to grow, then cod could have weighed five times the weight at which they were actually discarded, and would be worth 8.6 billion euros.

Published just a few weeks after the European Commission released it’s proposals for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the study adds more fuel to the heated debate surrounding a possible ban on the discarding of fish. Discards are those fish caught and then thown back into the sea dead of dying that are unwanted, of low commercial value or exceeding or outside quota rules.

The Commission’s proposals include a discard ban for “quota” species, where fishermen would have to land all fisheries with quota. Environmental NGOs have called the proposals “piecemeal”, as they do not cover the many non quota species caught. But parts of the fisheries sector are reluctant to accept measures which would oblige them to land large quantities of low value species.

Julie Cator

nef Report: Money overboard: why discarding fish is a waste of jobs and money

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