Mixed views over discard plans

File picture issued February 22 2004 of cod and haddock in the hold from a pair-trawled catch from between Norway and the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. Scotland is home to the largest part of the UK's sea fishing industry, with many coastal communities depending upon it for their livelihood. With anxiety over declining fish stocks especially cod the European Common Fisheries Policy has imposed quotas on catches and  there are now worries about the long-term future of the industry in Scotland. NB. Pair-trawling involves two vessels pulling on either side of a net. PA Photo: Maurice McDonald.
File picture issued February 22 2004 of cod and haddock in the hold from a pair-trawled catch from between Norway and the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. Scotland is home to the largest part of the UK's sea fishing industry, with many coastal communities depending upon it for their livelihood. With anxiety over declining fish stocks especially cod the European Common Fisheries Policy has imposed quotas on catches and there are now worries about the long-term future of the industry in Scotland. NB. Pair-trawling involves two vessels pulling on either side of a net. PA Photo: Maurice McDonald.

A VOTE to ban fishermen from throwing fish back to sea when they are over their quota has met with a mixed reaction in Fleetwood.

European MPs have voted to end the wasteful practice of throwing s fish back into the water, known as discarding, to meet annual quotas of the fish they can bring to land.

Those against the practice, headed by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight Campaign, argued that discarding encouraged overfishing rather than protecting dwindling stock.

Most of the fish returned to the water are dead, yet edible, stock.

Chris Richardson (pictured), owner of Richardson’s Fish Bar on Poulton Road in Fleetwood, today welcomed the EU reform and said a ban on discarding had already been successful in Norway, where he sourced his stock.

Mr Richardson (pictured right in Norway) said: “This is certainly a good thing for the industry. “In Norway they have already got rid of discarding, and we need to look at how they work over there.

“If Norwegian fisherman go over their quota they can still land everything and not get fined. The trawler is given 10 per cent back to cover running costs and the extra stock is given to charities or homeless shelters

It’s put to use and the trawlermen get their costs covered. “Throwing fish back is no good to anyone, certainly not the environment.

“They end up just rotting away at the bottom of the ocean.” Mr Richardson hailed the EU vote a “step forward” for the economy and fishing industry.

But Ken Moran, chief executive officer of the Fleetwood Fish Producers Organisation, argued against strict quotas in place which meant fishermen had no choice but to discard their catches.

He said: “Once you have exhausted your quota, no matter what the species, you are not able to carry on fishing and that’s not good for the industry.”

The European Parliament, sitting in Strasbourg on Wednesday, said future quotas would be set using scientific advice, but Mr Moran says the science is not perfect. He added: “On one hand they’re saying hake is an endangered species, but if you ask any fisherman, they’ll say we’ve got hake in abundance.

“They also said cod in the Irish Sea was the same as that in the Celtic sea; it was just migrating. Then they say the cod stock in the Celtic sea had decreased dramatically when the stock in the Irish Sea was the healthiest they’d seen in 25 years.“