Discarding the Discards

We are not looking for just another reform, we are asking questions even on the fundamentals of the current policy and should leave no stone unturned.

– Maritime commissioner Joe Borg.

On the 25th of May 2009 in a Speech given by the Commissioner to the Fisheries Council, Brussels, he also addressed the question of Discards. He described discards as “a practice which must come to an end”. Clearly this is to be welcomed by all in the Fishing Community in the Community.

In an indication of just how far the Commission is thinking of taking Commissioner Borg’s mantra to heart, it has been suggested that the traditional quota model which has been with us since the commencement of the CFP is to be scrapped and be replaced by a days at Sea system. Days at sea would limit the extent of the ‘free for all’ that would result from the end of quotas.

At present several sectors operate under a days at Sea regime and it is proposed that this would be extended to the over 88,000 fishing vessels at work in the Community.

Commissioner Borg explained that “Every vessel would receive an allowance in days at sea, which the vessel owners would manage throughout the year”

“The idea here is that the skipper can land all catches. This would be interesting for mixed fisheries since it would greatly reduce discards. It would also take away any reason to falsely declare catches and would be easier to control.”

It is also proposed that these days at sea could be traded amongst owners and that this would lead to a far more equitable situation for those who have invested to acquire rights.

This is another proposal being considered ever since the launch of the green paper calling for all interested parties to come forward with their suggestion as to how the CFP can be re-shaped

Another approach being suggested is the regionalisation of the Community waters. Member States in specific geographic areas with common links would be grouped and they would then agree and set down the approach to be take for that area based on the aims and the individual scientific data for that area.

At the moment this amounts to an expression of an idea for the purposes of courting debate on the topic. As of yet no specific proposals are before the Commission and the Council of Ministers who must accept such proposals before they can become law. It is also too early to say how various Member States will react to such proposals or indeed what environmentalists are likely to think about such a proposal.

The fact that this is even being discussed is a milestone in itself.

For More information contact Dermot Conway on 021 4901000 or dermot@conways.ie