Call to Heed Scientific Advice

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 December 2010, at 12:00am

UK - WWF Scotland is calling on European Fisheries Ministers to heed scientific advice as they prepare to meet in Brussels to agree fishing quotas this week.

A failure to do so could undermine the sustained efforts made by the Scottish fishing fleets in recent years, WWF Scotland says.

Speaking ahead of the talks, Dr Mireille Thom, Marine Policy Officer at WWF Scotland, said: “The current system provides quotas for what fishermen land instead of what they take out of the sea.

"It focuses on managing fish species separately, whereas they are caught together and on a yearly basis, rather than in the long term.

"As such, the system endorses the wasteful practice of discarding and has failed to make EU fisheries more sustainable and profitable.”

WWF Scotland is calling on Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead to work on ensuring the following:

  • that conservation work achieved in Scotland in the past few years is not jeopardised by short-term decisions that ignore scientific advice. The evidence is there for all to see: setting quotas above what is safe to catch brings long years of cutting back on the number of vessels, ever decreasing quotas and declining fishing communities. Fishing sustainably is not only a biological necessity, but is increasingly becoming a marketing one too. More and more consumers, fish processors, restaurants and food companies are seeking to buy their fish products from sustainably certified fisheries.
  • to continue promoting the extension of the on-going trials prohibiting discards in return for additional quotas, the so-called catch quotas system, as agreed at last week’s EU-Norway talks on fisheries (3 Dec) [1]. The extension of the trial scheme will contribute to the efforts under the cod recovery plan which has so far failed to replenish cod stocks.
  • Awaiting the European Commission’s proposal for an effective reform of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy (expected in Spring 2011), the Scottish Government should support the move towards regionalisation instead of top-down decison-making and long-term management plans for fisheries instead of yearly decisions on single stocks. These, added to the setting of science-based quotas at next week's Council meeting, are the best steps towards guaranteeing more sustainable and profitable fisheries.