UK Impact

How the FAILURE of EU fishing policy leads to illegal dumping of MILLIONS of fish

MORE than 31 million fish have been discarded illegally because European fisheries ministers are failing to comply with the EU’s reformed Common Fisheries Policy’s Landing Obligation threatening stocks, it has been revealed.

The staggering amount, laid bare in a new report, being discarded illegally could threaten stocks in the long-term with EU member states being urged to scrap the practice of illegal discarding.The report, titled ‘Thrown Away: How Illegal Discarding in the Baltic Sea is Failing EU Fisheries and Citizens’, calls on EU members to act immediately to end the illegal discarding of fish, which has reached unprecedented levels.According to European Commission guidelines, the Landing Obligation fishing policy “requires all catches of regulated commercial species on-board to be landed and counted against quota” – and is designed to gradually eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding catches.

The report, published by the campaign group Our Fish, found in some cases the responses of EU governments to the new guidelines have made discarding worse and clear advice on effective tools to monitor and control the law is being ignored.

A damning new report has blasted the failed EU fishing reforms

Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard said: “EU citizens expect national governments and EU authorities to uphold the laws they have signed up to – yet fisheries ministers are not keeping their end of the bargain.”If EU governments are serious about ending wasteful and illegal discarding, it is clear that they have to stop dodging responsibility, and put in place effective electronic monitoring and enforcement programs, only giving quota top-ups to fishing fleets who can prove that they comply with the law.””By failing to properly implement the discard ban in the Baltic Sea, EU governments are jeopardising the sustainability of fish stocks, undermining scientific advice, and perpetuating a waste of valuable resources.


The illegal dumping of fish has become a major concern

By failing to properly implement the discard ban in the Baltic Sea, EU governments are jeopardising the sustainability of fish stocks, undermining scientific advice, and perpetuating a waste of valuable resources

Rebecca Hubbard

“Not only does this limit the economic prosperity of the fishing industry, it exposes the EU seafood supply chain to unprecedented levels of illegal behaviour.”The report reveals in 2015 and 2016, a staggering 31.8million Baltic Sea cod were discarded illegally and 90 per cent of undersize Baltic cod is still being thrown away.Ms Hubbard said: “Retailers and customers throughout Europe may be shocked to find out that cod on their supermarket shelves is likely to be from a Baltic fishery that is illegally discarding.

“Retailers should insist that electronic monitoring is promptly implemented in order to ensure compliance in the supply chain. The problem of discards is particularly alarming in the case of Baltic cod, but not at all limited to these fisheries.”

Last month, a damning report found the EU’s attempt to control fishing quotas and prevent illegal fishing has failed so abysmally stocks are in real danger.

Member countries are failing to punish illegal sea activities which has turned the EU’s policy into a sham, the report by environmental law activists ClientEarth claims.Under the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), all EU countries have to impose sanctions on those breaking fishing laws to ensure a level playing field and to protect fish stocks.However, the report found most countries, including the key fishing countries of France, Spain and the Netherlands, are not implementing punishments.

The number of sanctions which have been issued is also incredibly low, with the law firm, whose patron is Coldplay, saying authorities are “doing little or nothing about illegal fishing”, seven years after the CFP penalty point system was adopted in 2010.

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