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A Policy that Counts - Discards and All

DENMARK - The Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries is calling for bureaucratic and inefficient fisheries management to be replaced by the responsibility and accountability of the fishermen themselves.

Eva Kjer Hansen presented her views at the Council of ministers on Monday 29 in the hope that the French initiative will enable EU to make important improvements of the Common Fisheries Policy(CFP) well ahead of the planned revision in 2012.

“The current CFP can hardly be praised as either sustainable or an economic success to fishermen or coastal communities”, she says. “We have seen a number of relevant diagnoses of the failure of the CFP, and it is my point of view that we need a new policy, where discard of fish stops and where the catch from each stock gives the highest long term economic yield of fish at the lowest impact cost in stock and environment", says Eva Kjer Hansen.

All catches should count

Minister Eva Kjer Hansen underlines that from her point of view the individual fisherman should be accountable for his total catches, not just – as it is now - his landings at port. In that sense the Danish proposal goes to the heart of the unacceptable feature of the CFP, namely discards of good fish.

“In my opinion all catches should be counted against the quota, which will mean that the fisherman cannot optimize his economy by discarding. He has to do it by developing selective fishing methods. This development would be user driven instead of driven by detailed regulations. At the end of the day, it is in the interest of all parties involved to avoid discard and it is essential that the fishermen have an active involvement and a greater responsibility in the new policy", says the Danish minister.

As one of the concrete initiatives to reach the ambitious goals, Denmark has launched an experiment this month, where six vessels have been equipped with camera monitoring systems to prove that a precise and reliable counting of all catches is possible. The Danish experiment is voluntary for the fishermen and will provide valuable biological data. The results will be presented at a conference in October 2009.