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Scandal of EU fishing discards ban

7 June 2018

Scottish fishing boats in Pittenweem, Fife. Photo Workers.

The EU Common Fisheries Policy’s quota system for fishermen required that any catch made above the quotas assigned per species had to be discarded (usually dead) into the sea. This was a disaster.  

It is now enforcing a discard ban to which all our fishermen would be subject if we accept the EU’s transition period. Suppose a fisherman has quotas for haddock, cod, hake and herring. As soon as he has caught his quota for any one of these four, he must return to port. So he is not allowed to catch his other quotas and will therefore make a huge loss on his trip. 

This is ruinous for the fisherman’s business. Few of our fishermen could survive even a year of this policy, let alone the whole two-year transition period.


Fishing for Leave official Alan Hastings says: “As part of the EU the UK receives only nine per cent of English Channel cod catch limits when based on most catches being in British waters it should be around 70 per cent.

“Leaving the CFP would see Britain free to reclaim 3,683 tons of cod, worth approximately £32million of processed fish.”

Concern over the discard ban is not limited to Britain. “All too often, small and medium sized vessels are targeted while larger-scale industrial fisheries controlled by corporate interests - whose only interest is in profiteering - are not only granted passes on these rules, but are often actively assisted,” said Irish MEP Liadh Ní Riadatold the EU Parliament’s magazine earlier this year. “This is why fishermen in Ireland have concerns over the implementation of the discard plans.”

The government has said that the discards policy will bankrupt 60 per cent of the UK fishing fleet. So why is the government accepting the EU’s transition period?