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Fisheries Council meeting agree discard ban

EU Fisheries Ministers have agreed (13th June) to ban the practice of discards. The issue was highlighted by the Fishfight campaign, heavily supported by MCS,  which revealed the practice to a shocked public who were unaware that unwanted, yet perfectly edible fish were being thrown overboard and wasted. 

MCS Fisheries Policy Officer, Debbie Crockard says although MCS are supportive of this move,  she is concerned that the language and the timeframe are not clearly defined. The Council agreed that the ban will be implemented on a gradual fishery by fishery basis and would have a clearly defined time frame. Unfortunately, this "important" time frame has not been agreed upon.

MCS made its views known to UK fisheries minister, Richard Benyon MP, before the meeting, demanding that the UK remain strong in its demands for a true reform that will focus on discards and agree to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for all stocks.

In response to this Richard Benyon has said that "While I am disappointed that the council has not agreed the firm dates that I was seeking, a commitment to eliminating discards is a step in the right direction."

Debbie Crockard says she's disappointed that the key topic of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), possibly the most important sustainability target in the CFP has been  weakened by the term "where possible" in its description. " "MSY by 2015 where possible and 2020 at the latest" is not an acceptable target, particularly when the Council refers to Fmsy, the level of exploitation of a stock as opposed to the biomass level (Bmsy) of the stock, which is a much more important level for assessing a stock's long-term sustainability. MCS still believes that if the EU council is serious about its aim to have stocks at a sustainable level, it should be targeting Bmsy for all stocks, says Debbie.

EU president Mette Gjerskov has said that the agreements are crucial as it shows that "the EU is no longer discussing if fisheries are to be more sustainable but are now only discussing when and how" they are to become sustainable.

MCS feels that although these agreements may be a "step" in the right direction it is clearly a baby step and much more radical reform is needed to ensure that our fisheries reach sustainable levels in an appropriate amount of time.

You can read more about our views on the Common Fisheries Policy Review in this paper produced jointly with partner organisations, and in the policy section of our Fishonline website. You can also read the views of MCS Chief Executive, Sam Fanshawe on the CFP reform in this article, published in the Triodos customer magazine, Colour of Money.

Join the the debate on Twitter where you can tweet your support. Find us there on http://www.twitter.com/mcsuk.

MCS has been working with partners to ensure various demands would be met at this meeting. The full report from the meeting can be viewed on the Europa.eu website

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