North Sea fishermen throw away almost a million dead and dying fish every year. Most are tossed back because they are too small or the wrong kind or will make the fishing boats over their quota.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, national treasure, celebrity chef and serious food campaigner was so outraged at this "insane waste" that he has started a campaign, Fish Fight, to get this practice banned.
Every year almost one million tons of fish are thrown back into the sea by fisherman. This is due to European Union (EU) laws on discarding. Some of the fish are under sized or there is little market for them. However much of the discarding is of over quota fish. These are prime cod, haddock, coley, whiting, plaice, and other major fish which the fishermen have run out of quota. The fish are being thrown away because to land them would be illegal.
According to the Independent, there are no specific figures for most of the numbers of fish being thrown back except for cod. Scientists at the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas calculated that more than 60 per cent are discarded in the North Sea, the figure rising to more than 90 per cent for cod aged less than a year.
Many fishermen do not agree with this policy, nor do conservations, nor do the politicians. The current Common Fisheries Policy is under review and due to be reformed in the coming months.
Fearnley-Whittingstall has started a letter writing campaign to the European Fisheries Commissioner, demanding the end of discards. He is asking them to make the elimination of discards a "primary objective" when ministers sit down to discuss it in the new year.
In his open letter to the Commissioner, Members of the European Parliament and all member state governments, he writes:
"I have seen images of dead and dying fish discarded in European waters.
I understand that the current Common Fisheries Policy leads to discarding on a vast scale; for example, half of all fish caught in the North Sea are being discarded because of the current quota system imposed by the CFP.
I want this senseless waste of food to end. I want you to use your influence to stop this unacceptable and shameful practice.
I am supporting the Fish Fight campaign to help bring about this vital change in our seas."
More on Fishing Quotas and Fearnley-Whittingstall
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