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Fish Discards Must Be Addressed At EU Council

SCOTLAND, UK - Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead wants Europe to put the 'scandalous waste' caused by the discarding of huge numbers of marketable fish to the top of their agenda after the Commission failed, again, to tackle the issue effectively in the crucial autumn fisheries talks.

Scotland is leading efforts to radically reform 'broken' EU rules which result in the wasteful dumping of dead fish back into our seas, and is trialling innovative measures to reduce discards, winning plaudits from across Europe.

But the autumn fisheries summits - which concluded in December - saw the granting of only limited expansion to Scotland's pioneering initiatives, and ended with the introduction of regimes and quota decisions that only encourage wasteful discards.

Mr Lochhead has called on the UK Government to ask for discards to be added to the agenda for next week's Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels (January 24).

He said: "Scotland has long led the way in speaking out loudest in Europe against the broken EU rules which result in our fishermen having to discard marketable fish, dead, back into the sea.

"Thanks to our ongoing efforts to tackle the issue, and the recent activity of campaigning celebrity chefs bringing emotive images to our TV screens, there is a groundswell of public opinion looking for urgent action from Europe to allow skippers to land more of what they catch.

"I am determined that we should build on this momentum and continue to push the European Commission, at every opportunity, to take the issue of discarding more seriously and to work with countries like Scotland in expanding innovative practices that reduce discards and improve fishing methods that help fishermen avoid what they don't want to catch.

"During the critical autumn EU fisheries negotiations, we did secure limited expansion of our pioneering 'catch quotas' trial, which allows fishermen to land all the fish they catch without wasteful discards, a scheme which has won plaudits across the continent. It was hugely frustrating, however, that we were prevented from including all interested vessels in a scheme that is all about tackling discards.

"We continue to lead the way in campaigning for change, but our hands are tied by an ineffective and broken Common Fisheries Policy which doesn't recognise the realities of mixed fisheries and other countries that fish our seas.

"So it remains vital that we use every lever at our disposal to keep the issue in the spotlight and to push Europe for further action.

"Discards is not formally on the agenda for next week's Fisheries Council agenda, but I have asked the UK Government to request that the issue be added to the agenda given the need for increased action in both the short and long term."

the Fish Site Editor

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