Jim Portus, chief executive of the South Western Fish Producers Organisations and well known to readers of this blog, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the so-called CFP reforms. It is unfortunate that the article's headline is somewhat misleading. Banning fish discard policy would be 'catastrophic' is likely to annoy people who are unhappy at the economic and ecological results of the fish discard policy that is the inevitable outcome of the present derogation from the full CFP (which, when in place, will be even worse).

In fact, Jim Portus said:

"Fishermen should be redesigning their gear to make sure they are not catching some of these fish in the first instance — that they are released by the nets on the seabed.

"That to us is the way to go about doing it sensibly.

"But if we had a ban on discards and we had to bring everything back in, and we could not acquire a quota for the fish you did not have authority to land, that's where you would get into difficulty because some of these quotas available to the UK are very small indeed.

"We would be at the mercy of countries like France in particular that have large quotas for cod, whiting, haddock, pollack and coley.

"The majority of quota for these five fish are held by France and we would have to be doing deals with the French to enable our fishermen to carry on at sea under a zero discard policy.

"It might ultimately be more sensible to just quit the business.

"We have already lost 70 of our fleet in the UK under the last fisheries policy.

"This proposal to ban discards could potentially threaten the livelihoods of the Brixham fishermen.

Well, indeed, we should use existing technology to conserve fish while making sure that the British fishing industry does not simply die out. But that would involve plans and decisions made at local and regional as well as national levels - the exact opposite of the centralized Common Fisheries Policy.


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