Aquaculture for all

Minister Seeking Loophole Free Fish Discards Ban

Sustainability Politics +2 more

SCOTLAND, UK - Richard Lochhead has said that next weeks meeting of Fishing ministers in Brussels will be a milestone on the journey to ending fish discards where dead fish are thrown back into the sea.


The Minister is calling on Europe to agree a loophole free policy but one that is workable for fishermen especially given the complexities of the North Sea’s mixed fishery.

Significant progress has been made on reducing discards though there is still a lot of work remaining to achieving the goal of discard free fisheries.

Across European waters, it is estimated that up to one million tonnes of fish are discarded every year which means if the EU does not tackle this scandal then hundreds of millions of pounds of fish and a precious food resource will be wasted over the next decade.

The Scottish Government has been pushing for a ban on discards throughout the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) negotiations. Discards will be the biggest issue up for negotiation when the EU Council meets on Tuesday.

At the EU Council meeting on Tuesday Mr Lochhead will be urging his fellow fisheries Ministers to work towards:

  • A loophole-free discards ban with clear, practical measures that take account of our complex mixed fisheries, keep regulatory burdens on our fishers to a minimum, and are not open to abuse
  • An enforceable ban that embraces new technology
  • A responsive regional management framework that allows us to monitor and fine tune implementation and brings decision-making on technical and operational measures closer to home
  • A policy that allows our fishermen to access their legitimate fishing opportunities and supports the future viability of the industry.

Mr Lochhead said: “Next weeks fisheries council is a long awaited opportunity for Europe’s governments to end the decades long scandal of fish discards that has led to a waste of a precious food resources, harmed stocks and damaged fishing communities.

“In recent years Scotland has led the way in Europe in devising ways to reduce discarding of fish. Scottish discards of North Sea cod have almost halved since 2007. We will continue to work with our industry to further reduce unwanted catches as we move towards discard free fisheries.

"It is important that we learn from past mistakes. The top down one-size-fits-all CFP has failed for the last 30 years. I am clear that a flexible, workable, and enforceable discards package is essential if we are to achieve our shared goal of sustainable fisheries across Europe.”