Legally-binding commitments need to be in place to stop the practice of fish catches being discarded, the UK’s fisheries minister has warned.
Richard Benyon is attending the Council of the European Union in Luxembourg alongside Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead as nations attempt to thrash out a deal over a new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The UK Defra minister urged a ban be implemented for some stocks by the beginning of 2014.
Under rules which govern fishing across European Union countries, fishermen have quotas for certain fish but can carry on fishing once the limits are reached as long as they do not bring any more of that species to shore.
As a result, tonnes of edible fish which exceed the quota are thrown back to sea as “discards”, accounting for up to 90 per cent of the total catch in some fisheries.
Speaking in today’s morning session, Benyon said: “We want the new CFP to eliminate discards as soon as possible, lets be clear about that. “We want this with legally binding commitments for landing obligations with dates to ensure early delivery.
“This terrible waste quite rightly attracts huge anger across Europe and I share the public’s impatience to deal with this quickly. I support an ambitious approach on deadlines starting elimination on January 2014.”
He added: “Over-fishing has been a central failing of the current CFP. A fundamental requirement of the new CFP is that it keeps fishing within sustainable levels. We must have clear legal commitment and deadlines to achieve maximum suitable yield as soon as possible in line with our international commitments.”