First step taken to fish discard ban

FISHERMEN TARGETING pelagic quota species such as mackerel and herring will now be required to land all the quota fish they catch, as the first steps to a ‘discard ban’ are taken.

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A three year campaign, led by the UK Government in Europe, to end the practice of discarding some catch before returning to port is now in its first phases of success.


It is estimated that millions of tonnes of fish are thrown back into the water every years. The new reforms, in effect from 1st January, to the European Common Fisheries Policy include:


  • A ban on discarding fish
  • a legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels; and
  • decentralised decision making, allowing Member States to agree the measures appropriate to their fisheries.


The ban will first apply to pelagic species including blue whiting, boarfish, herring, horse mackerel, mackerel, Norway pout, sandeel and sprat. It will also include by-catch of quota species, such as cod and whiting, and any quota fish that are below the minimum landing size (MLS).


Commenting on the start of the pelagic discard ban, Fisheries Minister George Eustice said: “The long fight to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy has been won and today marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fish more sustainably by ending the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish.


“But our work is not over. While it’s widely recognised pelagic fishing operations have relatively low discard rates we will continue to work with fishermen to help them adjust to the new reforms and make the transition as smooth as possible.”