EU Discard Ban ignores 95% of Exploited Species

Next Monday, fisheries ministers from the 27 EU Member States will gather in Brussels to discuss the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and in particular the discard ban proposed by the European Commission.

Because discarding unwanted catches poses both ethical and environmental problems, Oceana (the largest international organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans), strongly supports a ban that includes the obligation to land all catches accompanied by technical measures to reduce and eliminate unwanted catches, as the best way to stop this waste of resources.

Despite years of policies aimed at improving the selectivity of fishing techniques in Europe, discards still represent 13% of European catches, amounting to 1, 3 million tonnes thrown overboard dead or dying each year.

Yet, the discard ban currently proposed by the Commission would only apply to a limited number of commercially exploited species (around 5%).

Oceana urges Member States to support a general ban discards for all commercial species, implemented within a specific and gradual timeframe so as to allow the fishing fleet to adapt.

“This wasteful and shameful practice hampers the health of fish stocks, threatens the balance of ecosystems and jeopardizes the future of European fisheries,” stated Ricardo Aguilar, scientific director at Oceana Europe.

“An obligation to land all catches would create a strong enough incentive to change practices and favor more selective fishing techniques.”

However, technical measures designed to improve selectivity, and a proper plan on what to do with the additional catch must accompany any such landing obligation and the Commission