EYEMOUTH fishermen have long been calling for changes to be made to the amount of dead fish that have to be thrown overboard in order to maintain EU quotas and at long last the European Fisheries Commissioner has accepted that the issue needs to be addressed.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the position set out by Commissioner Maria Damanaki in the AgriFish Council in Brussels this week and said: “The madness of fish discards – where a perfectly good food source is thrown dead overboard – was for decades Europe’s secret shame. It is therefore significant that the scandal is now centre stage, with the fishermen and the public demanding action.
“I’m pleased that Commissioner Damanaki has set out a sensible way ahead, which I hope leads to the problem finally being addressed, with effective and enforceable measures brought forward that we can sign up to by the summer.
“It’s absurd that EU fishermen have to discard up to a million tonnes of fish each and every year, otherwise they are deemed law breakers under the perverse Common Fisheries Policy.
“We need a strict timetable for the roadmap towards discard-free fisheries across the EU, with radical reforms to the CFP.
“It’s critical that we work closely with our fishermen to find solutions and put in places incentives to stop discarding, just as Scotland has been doing successfully in recent years.”
Local fishermen already have efficient nets that reduce the level of bi-catch and discarded fish, which is what the EU is aiming for, and are looking to the Marine Scotland scientists to give these nets their approval so that fishermen’s days at sea can be increased.