Oceana urges European Commission to put an end to the 1.3 million tonnes of wasted marine resources every year

The implementation of a discard ban must go hand in hand with a maximum acceptable by-catch limit and an obligation to land all catches.

Press Release Date: May 4, 2011

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Today, stakeholders, including Oceana, the international marine conservation organization, gathered at the European Commission to exchange views on the issue of discards. Currently, due to the lack of proper regulations by the EU and Member States, and the complicity of the fishing industry, around 1,3 million tonnes of marine resources, representing 13% of total catches, are thrown overboard every year by the European fleets. This waste, without any benefit to society, makes no sense from an ethical, economical or environmental point of view.

“The passivity of the European Fisheries Policy allows the use of low selective fishing techniques that cause discard rates as high as 70, 80 and 90%,” stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “In many cases these fishing techniques, such as bottom trawling, have a detrimental impact on the very ecosystem on which the commercial and non-commercial species depend”.

The unnecessary waste of marine resources undermines the health of stocks, threatens the long term economic sustainability of European fisheries, and impacts the balance of the ecosystem and its biodiversity. This unacceptable side effect of Europe´s fisheries policy runs counter to the objectives expressed in the main regulations of the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Framework Directive and in the Integrated Maritime Policy as well as some international commitment.

Oceana supports an approach based on a maximum acceptable by-catch quota, defined by scientific knowledge, combined with an obligation to land all catches. To comply with the by-catch limits some fisheries should change fishing practices or implement technical measures that are more compatible with their practical realities. Also to dissuade the incentives that lead to discards, a strong enforcement of controls, adapted to the scale and type of each fishery, with a proportionate sanction system must be regulated.

“A discard ban is not in and of itself a solution, because it alone will not ensure a decrease in the unnecessary death of so many species, and must therefore also include technical measures designed to reduce this waste,” pointed out Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director at Oceana Europe, adding that the upcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy provides a crucial opportunity to address this problem and establish a legal framework to move towards a more sustainable management of fisheries. The EU can simply no longer afford wasting 1.3 million tonnes of discards, when 9 out of 10 of our assessed fish stocks are overexploited.”

Oceana´s recommendations on discards management