You may not have noticed it, but since January 1st fishermen targeting pelagic quota species, such as mackerel and herring, have had to end the wasteful practice of throwing unwanted fish back overboard.
The practise, known as ‘discarding’ sees dead and injured fish hurled back into the water to prevent boats exceeding their catch quota of certain species.
This obligation follows three years of hard-fought negotiations led by the UK government in Europe and is the first phase of the introduction of the wider ‘discard ban’.
But while celebrating the ‘victory’, Fisheries Minister George Eustice said: “The long fight to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy has been won and today marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fish more sustainably by ending the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish.
“But our work is not over. While it’s widely recognised pelagic fishing operations have relatively low discard rates we will continue to work with fishermen to help them adjust to the new reforms and make the transition as smooth as possible.”
The ban will first apply to pelagic species including blue whiting, boarfish, herring, horse mackerel, mackerel, Norway pout, sandeel and sprat. It will also include by-catch of quota species, such as cod and whiting, and any quota fish that are below the minimum landing size (MLS).
Of more interest to anglers, the implementation of the demersal discard ban, for fish such as cod and hake, doesn’t come into force until January 2016.