We have received the following information and comment from Callander MCDowell:
Fish to Landfill: This week, UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon spoke at a press meeting in advance of EU proposals to reform the Common Fisheries policy. According to Seafood Source, Mr Benyon is an ardent supporter of Mrs Damanaki’s reforms which he hopes will bring about an end to discards. However, he said any ban on discards must be practical. Mr Benyon also said that a discard ban would satisfy most of the 650,000 people who signed the Fish Fight petition (although we suspect that this is an issue that most of the 650,000 have already long forgotten having being persuaded by others to sign) but that he doesn’t want to achieve a system whereby we’ll be putting good fish in landfill because we can’t throw them overboard at sea.
Mr Benyon’s suggestion that any fish might be consigned to landfill is astonishing, especially as his department has just spent £330.000 looking at ways in which discards could be utilised. Unfortunately, as we have previously discussed, the Fishing for the Markets project appears to have failed to come up with anything new. One of their suggestions was to use the fish for fishmeal production which is probably what would happen if fishermen were prevented from throwing the fish back into the sea. There is absolutely no reason to even consider landfill as a possible solution and it is hard to understand why such an idea would even be considered. The problem with fishmeal production is that those who are against discards also seem to be against the idea of feeding fish to fish and so fishmeal production would probably bring about even more objections than discards.
Thus the only realistic solution emanating from the Fishing from the Markets project is to get chefs to promote greater consumption of under utilised species. This coming week, Mr Benyon’s department are sponsoring a day at Billingsgate Seafood Training School in which chefs will be shown how to prepare and cook these fish. We’ve yet to be convinced that the public can be converted to eating more of these species by this route. Just this Friday, Sainsbury’s continued to promote their Switch the Fish campaign with the appearance of their Switch the Fish van in central Manchester. The weather was not in their favour but even though there were many people on the streets during the lunch time rush, we didn’t see that much interest in Sainsbury’s promotion. There seemed to be more staff than visitors.
Mr Benyon has remained surprisingly quiet about what to do about discards despite being very vocal at its launch of his project. Perhaps we will need to wait to hear directly from Mr Benyon as to whether it is the fish or the Fishing for the Markets project which are most likely to end up in landfill.
He has also remained quiet about FALs Open Letter to him and is perpetrating the myth in today’s’ Scotsman newspaper that the CFP can be radically reformed calling for” serious reform of the fundamentally broken EU fisheries policy”. You cannot reform equal access to the common resource and that, after all, is what the CFP is all about.