added byFish Fight Team
Every year in Europe, an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of fish are thrown back overboard. In the North Sea, half of the fish caught are thrown back dead.
The problem is that in a mixed fishery where many different fish live together, fishermen cannot control the species that they catch. Fishing for one species often means catching another, and if people don’t want them or fishermen are not allowed to land them, the only option is to throw them overboard. The vast majority of these discarded fish will die.
Many of the discarded fish are prime cod, haddock, plaice and other popular food species that are “over-quota”. The quota system is intended to protect fish stocks by setting limits on how many fish of a certain species can be landed (brought back to port to sell). But the rules don’t prevent a boat from catching those fish in the first place. If a boat has run out of quota for cod, it can carry on fishing for other species, but has to throw away any cod it catches.
Other discarded fish are thrown away by choice – they are species that have fallen out of fashion and are worth little money. We can help to prevent their discard just by rediscovering our taste for them.
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is the political framework for the quota system, is currently being reformed and needs to be finished by the end of 2013. Thanks to the pressure you’ve all put on governments and the EU, an end to discards is firmly on the agenda. Fish Fight is not trying to dictate how discards are ended, and it will require a lot of hard work by governments, fishermen, and scientists. But we think a ban on discards is the right level of ambition for the new Common Fisheries Policy. You can help by signing our petition if you haven’t already, and spreading the word!
In Britain, the fishing industry has been progressive in working out how to reduce discards in our fisheries. ‘Catch quota trials’ in England and Scotland have shown that by changing the way quota rules work, encouraging selective methods of fishing, and using CCTV to monitor discarding, boats can hugely reduce the number of fish they discard. Countries like Norway that banned discards 25 years ago also show what can be done.
Expand the selection of fish that you eat by trying some of the lesser-known species of local fish currently being discarded as trash. In the UK, cod, salmon and tuna account for more than 50% of the fish that we consume, and tasty, exciting and nutritious fish such as flounder, dab, coley and pouting are overlooked and often thrown away. Download the free app and check out our sustainable recipes to help you.