Three fisheries organisations this week presented a proposal on a limited discard ban, which would only cover stocks that are on the verge of depletion.
The proposal has three key components:
* an obligation to land all catches for stocks in danger.
* an obligation to reduce discards on other named fisheries.
* an obligation to produce discards atlases on a fishery by fishery basis.
“Stocks in danger” in this case refers to stocks where the Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) is below Blim, which is a limit below which there is a high risk of serious decline. Blim is defined by ICES as the level where there is a higher risk that the stock reaches a level where it suffers from severely reduced productivity.
The fishing industry said the impetus for this proposal arose from the “unworkable and ineffective proposals of both the EU Commission and the Council of Fisheries Ministers”. The Commission has proposed a ban on discards on some, but not all, commercial stocks. In July the Council failed to agree on the details of a discard ban.
The three industry organisations have therefore turned to the European Parliament, where compromises on the fisheries reform are currently being discussed among groups after MEPs in the Fisheries Committee tabled their amendments in July.
EAPO, Europêche and Cogeca wrote in a letter to MEPs that their proposal would “solve the discards issue in a meaningful and practical way”. It remains to be seen how their proposal is received by MEPs, who have made varying proposals. Many MEPs, such as Alain Cadec (EPP), wants the obligation to land all catches to be turned into a “significant reduction of unwanted catches”. Others, like Carmen Fraga (EPP), want to make the discard ban gradual and put in the management plans instead of the Basic Regulation. The Greens want a discard ban to cover all species from 2015.