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SFF Calls For Sensible Approach Discards Problem

UK - With the EC expected to unveil proposals tooday on banning the practice of discards, the Scottish Fishermens Federation is warning that a step-by-step approach is needed to resolve the problem otherwise there is a real danger that many whitefish vessels could be pushed to the brink of economic viability.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, says the fishing industry abhors the practice of discarding, which is the result of flawed regulations that actually requires for fish to be discarded in order to stay within the law.

“The current rules are not fit for purpose and do not legislate for situations where fishermen encounter an abundance of fish or highly varying proportions of different species of fish in our mixed fisheries,” said Mr Armstrong.

“However, the proposal from EC Fisheries Commissioner's Maria Damanaki for a discards ban amounts to a draconian step too far. It is a knee-jerk response to populist TV coverage which has accurately described the problem, but which offers no solutions. Regrettably, the Commissioner's measures and the timescale proposed are equally superficial and simply will not work if sustainable harvesting of fish is to be a reality. The European industry despises discards, but there must be a more sensible and coherent approach.

“There is the real danger that the Commissioner’s proposals will undo all the innovative work that has been carried out in recent years by the Scottish fishing fleet in reducing discards. This has included the use of more selective nets and closed fishing areas. We believe the solution to the problem lies in the further development of such management measures on a step-by-step basis so as to ensure the viability of the fishing fleet.

“Imposing a discards ban in the near future that fails to take into account the complex operational environment of mixed fisheries that the Scottish fleet operates in could have very serious consequences for a vitally important economic sector that supports many communities around our coasts.”

the Fish Site Editor

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