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SFF: Concerted Action Against Fish Discards

SCOTLAND, UK - The Scottish Fishermens Federation will be underlining its commitment for measures to reduce discarding at a specially convened meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday (25 September).

The Scottish Government organised meeting – dubbed ‘red card for discards’ - will be attended by the fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and policy-makers including the European Commission and will discuss workable measures for reducing the discarding of fish.

"These steps have proved successful and there is good scope for their further development."
Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive

Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “The fishing industry is determined to reduce discarding and has already taken the lead in a range of initiatives to reduce the catch of unwanted fish.

“This has included technical alterations to trawls to release juvenile fish, as well as fish bycatch in the langoustine fishery. This applies across all sectors of the industry and is backed up by a serious programme of research as part of the Scottish Industry/Science partnership. Also, the Scottish industry and government have pioneered a ground-breaking system of closures to fishing grounds to avoid catching unwanted fish in the first place.

“These steps have proved successful and there is good scope for their further development.

“We are determined to leave no stone unturned to ensure the level of discarding in all fisheries is reduced by as much as practically possible. One of the biggest problems is the illogical and inflexible nature of EC fisheries regulations, which exacerbates the problem. There is nothing more hurtful to the men of this industry than to throw fish overboard purely because the regulations don’t fit the reality in the sea. An important step would be to tackle these regulatory flaws head-on and we will be pressing the Scottish Government to take action on this point.

“A particular difficulty is the time-lag between the collation of scientific advice compared with the real-time situation on the fishing grounds. For example, this year it is absolutely clear that the cod stock is recovering fast, but the quota does not match the abundance, meaning that fishermen have no option other than to dump good quality marketable fish despite their best efforts to try and avoid cod.”