The European Commission launches their technical measures regulation consultation NWWAC response discard reform

NWWAC has issued a follow-up response to the Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva regarding the UK consultation on Discard Reform

NWWAC Advocates for Coherent Fisheries Management Amidst UK Discard Reform Consultation

The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) has has replied to the response received from the Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva on the recent consultation on the reform of discard management in England.

Running from 17 July to 09 October 2023, the consultation covered various fisheries-related aspects, including the expansion of Remote Electronic Monitoring and Fisheries Management Plans.

In response to the consultation, the NWWAC, a recognised EU fisheries stakeholder body, submitted a detailed position paper, highlighting key considerations. This paper, shared with DG MARE on 09 October, serves as a basis for ongoing discussions addressing selectivity and the management of unwanted catches with the UK in the Specialised Committee on Fisheries.

Of paramount concern for the NWWAC is the need for coherence in managing fisheries between European and UK waters. Vessels operating in the North Western Waters often traverse both areas, and the NWWAC emphasises the challenges posed by diverging compliance systems when crossing the border between EU and UK waters. The Council urges the Commission to address this issue as a priority in the Specialised Committee on Fisheries, advocating for cohesive and harmonised management systems with the UK.

Additionally, the NWWAC raises pertinent issues regarding the effectiveness and practicality of the obligation to land all catches, as outlined in Article 15 of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Challenges in implementing the landing obligation have been consistently highlighted by the NWWAC, including in a letter sent to the Commission on 13 June 2023. The Council expresses gratitude for DG MARE’s recent response and sees the UK consultation as an opportunity to rethink the European approach to discards. The NWWAC is eager to engage with the Commission in further discussions on this matter.

Despite the landing obligation being in place for several years, the NWWAC notes that efforts to increase selectivity have faced challenges. The obligation has not significantly contributed to these efforts, as increased selectivity has been hindered by the costs associated with landing non-marketable fish. The Council points out the inconsistency of landing undersized fish for destruction within a responsible food policy.

The NWWAC states:

“The NWWAC believes that the consultation launched by the UK could be an interesting opportunity to start rethinking the European approach to discards and would be keen to engage with the Commission on such discussion. The landing obligation has now been in place for several years and whilst efforts to increase selectivity have generally continued, it can be concluded that the landing obligation has not contributed to such efforts. On the contrary, investing in increased selectivity has been jeopardized by incurring costs to land non-marketable fish. Also, within a responsible food policy it is inconsistent to land undersized fish to destroy.”

The NWWAC stated that it looks forward to future discussions and awaits the Commission’s views on the possibility of further debate on this critical matter, expressing gratitude in advance for the attention given to these fisheries management considerations.

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