UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, has today responded to the European Commission’s proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy.
Mr Benyon said:
“The current CFP has failed. It has not given us healthy fish stocks and it has not delivered a sustainable living for our fishing industry. Only genuine fundamental reform of this broken policy can turn around these failures.
“We have been making the case for reform for some time and now we have the opportunity to actually make it happen. It is absolutely crucial that we get the detail right, working with the industry, so that fisheries are managed for the long term, and with less top down micro-management from Brussels.
“For a start, we need to end the unacceptable practice of throwing dead fish back to the sea. It’s a terrible waste of perfectly good food and one of the biggest failings of the CFP. We have already made big strides in eliminating discards, implementing bans through our innovative catch quota schemes. I want to work with the English fishing fleet around the coast to extend these initiatives to new species like haddock, plaice and whiting. We will be discussing with herring and mackerel fishermen whether we can eliminate their discards ahead of the Commission’s proposed timetable.
“Consumers can also help reduce discards through buying a wider range of fish. Our Fishing for the Markets project, published today, looked at the barriers to creating markets for these, often less known, fish. There’s clearly a lot of work that can be done with suppliers and the hospitality sector and we will work with them to help promote these different, but tasty, fish.
“Today’s proposals from the European Commission are a vital first step and we are ready to work with the EU and other Member States to deliver the radical reforms the marine environment and our fishermen need and the public now expects.
“Because our fisheries are so varied, I don’t believe that a one size fits all approach, from the Mediterranean to the sub-arctic region, will work effectively. There has to be the flexibility to work with the industry to introduce a range of tailored measures to tackle discards that are genuinely effective without simply turning a problem that happens at sea to a problem on land.
“This is the start of lengthy negotiations, and we will play a full part in helping to improve them. I am confident that we can make the case for the radical reform that is needed, alongside our allies at home and abroad, to grasp this once in a decade opportunity.”
**The European Commission today released proposals for a reformed Common Fisheries Policy. In 2009 their Green Paper recognised the failings of the CFP.
The policy will be decided through co-decision between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. It is expected the policy will be finalised during 2013.
The Fishing for the Markets report is available at www.fishingforthemarkets.com.
Scientific advice on recommended sustainable fish is available from Cefas http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/our-science/fisheries-information/marine-fisheries/under-utilised-species.aspx.