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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

MEPs pave the way for first discard ban in the EU

Fisheries Committee MEPs backed on Tuesday 19 February a proposed ban on discarding unwanted fish of 35 species caught in the Skagerrak (between the North Sea and the Baltic). The ban, to take effect gradually between 2014 and 2016, would be enforced with a remote electronic monitoring system.
The discard ban regulation would oblige fishing vessels to land all caught fish in order to halt "discards" - the practice of throwing fish back into the sea, usually because they are of an unwanted species or size. Most discarded fish die, which is wasteful and aggravates overfishing.
At the same time, the proposals drafted by Werner Kuhn (EPP, DE), aim to fill a gap left by the revocation of an international fisheries agreement on the Skagerrak, inter alia by harmonising EU rules with those of Norway, where a discard ban is already in place.
As a previous international agreement on fishing in the Skagerrak no longer applies, boats must abide by the rules of the state in whose territorial waters they are fishing, and harmonising the relevant EU and Norwegian laws should facilitate compliance.
Plans to ban discards in all EU waters were backed by the European Parliament in a plenary vote on the new Common Fisheries Policy in February. Experience in the Skagerrak should provide useful lessons on how best to enforce the obligation to land all catches made in EU waters.


Source: European Parliament