European fisheries ministers meeting in Brussels say they have made good progress on ending the discarding of unwanted fish – despite initial opposition from Spain and France.
The EU Commission has called for a complete ban on the controversial practice, in which dead fish are thrown overboard when a vessel exceeds its quota.
The French and Spanish governments were expected to issue a declaration describing the Commission’s proposal as unworkable, but dramatically dropped it at the last minute.
It’s thought a big social media campaign was crucial in the u-turn. Set up by celebrity British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall it called on ministers to stick to the original plan to ban discards.
Campaigners claim dumping leads to as many as two thirds of a healthy catch being thrown into the sea.
“There are anxieties that taking away the obligations to discard may mean the value of their catch goes down. In the short term this is maybe the case, but in the longer term, it should be possible to increase the quotas because there are fewer fish being wasted, so fisherman should see the benefits of that,” Fearnley-Whittingstall said.
In addition to progress on discards, Ministers also announced a deal for tighter sustainability rules for EU boats fishing outside European waters.
Environmental groups like Greenpeace insist dwindling stocks in Europe, have forced vessels to venture further a field, such as North Africa, with devastating results.