Two more replies to the email to my MP and six MEPs last Wednesday, first:
Dear Mr Kennick,
Thank you for your email regarding fish discards. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's revelation that over 1 million tonnes of fish are being dumped annually in the North Sea alone is not news to Conservative MEPs who have fought for years to end this obscenity.
This is not a problem confined to Europe. According to the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) around 7.3 million tonnes of fish are being dumped overboard by fishermen around the world every year.
There are an estimated 850 million people in the world today suffering from hunger. It is an obscenity that we stand idly by and watch the wanton destruction of global fish stocks and the dumping of unwanted and juvenile fish on this appalling scale. As Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has shown, the problem is particularly prevalent in the North Sea where around 70% of discards are demersal roundfish (e.g. cod and haddock) and flatfish.
Much of this problem can be traced to the way in which we operate our current system of fisheries management. Under the Common Fisheries Policy, Brussels has imposed a ludicrously complex system of TACs (Total Allowable Catches), quotas and effort limitation (or restrictions on the number of days a fisherman can go to sea). As well as being the primary cause of discards, this mixed bag of controls, introduced mainly to aid cod recovery in the North Sea, has failed to stop a rapid decline in cod stocks and in addition, has led to over 60% of the UK whitefish fleet being scrapped in the past 6 years.
Perhaps the solution to the discards issue is to introduce a land-all policy that then can utilise the undersized or immature fish for processing into fishmeal and fish oil? The Processing sector has confirmed that they would be happy to compensate fishermen for this fish at a rate which is not so attractive as to encourage targeting of these species, but attractive enough to discourage dumping over the side.
I can assure you that the Conservatives in the European Parliament are working hard to find a lasting solution to the problem of fish stocks and discards.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP
Dear Tony Kennick,
Thank you very much for your email.
A number of constituents have contacted me on this subject and as a result I have added my name to EDM 1123.
With best wishes,