Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

EU's fish discard ban criticised

Irish fishermen have warned that a European ban on dumping dead fish at sea is the wrong tactic

Irish fishermen have warned that a European ban on dumping dead fish at sea is the wrong tactic.

The Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (ISWFO) said it is unrealistic to think that new rules on discards of small and juvenile fish could be enforced by January next year.

The EU deal will ban the dumping at sea of herring and whiting from January 2014 and white fish stocks in January 2016.

Eibhlin O'Sullivan, chief executive at the ISWFO, said fisheries chiefs should have been looking to prevent the catching of young fish to begin with.

"It's still terribly vague. But we disagree with the approach from the start," she said.

"They are starting with what to do with the discards, but we'd start with trying to avoid catching them in the first place - if the fish are dead on land or dead at sea they are still dead.

"From our perspective there's a distinct lack of detail."

Fishermen claim the 10-month run-in to implement the first ban on discards of small and juvenile herring and whiting is too short a timeframe.

The ISWFO claimed that fisheries chiefs should have been looking at a wider range of initiatives including real-time and seasonal closure of fishing, feeding and spawning grounds and more advanced variations in fishing gear such as net types, mesh sizes and escape hatches.

The FIF said it is important that the focus does not shift back to simply landing everything a trawler catches and warned it is naive to think that would solve the crisis.

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