Halfway through 2019 the total tonnage in the UK of undersized fish that was landed was 85 tonnes.
“Now you might think that sounds small” the Lord told the House “but what’s even more interesting is there was even more landed, nearly four times more the year before.”
Instead of seeing this as an improvement in fishing gear technologies or the use of other technologies to avoid ‘choke species’, Lord Teverson said he believed if the Landing Obligation was working there should have had a lot more undersized fish landed.
He also said that it was found that there wasn’t the facilities at harbours to implement the Landing Obligation regulations.
But, he did recognise the issue with ‘choke species’ and the Landing Obligation where it was a problem for boats involved in mixed fisheries and that it could lead to fleets being tied up when a species was fished to it’s quota.
He said from the information at hand there was no ‘choke’ across the UK fleet in 2019 and this was due to quota increases on these species.
Lord Teverson also pointed to implementing the Landing Obligation in regards to quota swaps between vessels but according to DEFRA, this was a problem that was still happening.
He continued “There’s also particularly dangers. Clearly a disregard of legislation on the law is not a good thing generally and is a bad culture within the industry. But secondly quotas were actually increased to take account of the fact that fish would be landed rather than being thrown away so they have gone up but the way people have acted has not changed and so we have a real issue over greater over fishing.”
On the enforcement front he said that there several issues that were to the forefront.
One of those issues he believed from the report was that enforcement is difficult as fishing is “ very secretive.”
He also said that enforcement is difficult because the Marine Management Organisation lacked the proper tools to do their job.
Currently, the MMO has only access to three patrol boats and this is not enough to act as an effective deterrent against Member State vessels who flaunt the law in UK waters.
Teverson told the House that the only effective way of monitoring the UK fishing fleet and other fishing boats in UK water was through the use of CCTV monitoring.
“The only way that has been proven in other areas, in New Zealand in British Columbia, in other parts of the world and in part of the United States, is you need remote electronic monitoring which is effectively closed circuit TV to be able to do this technology that has been tested it works and is getting much less expensive.”
He went on to say “In Iceland it took some 20 years for them to adjust to the landing obligation. So no one is saying that this is an easy issue. Why is this relevant? Because these whole issues will remain post-Brexit when we have control over our independent waters.”
He noted that he did not see any commitment in the Conservative manifesto but he hoped that the Government would act in good faith.
“In terms of legislation, quite clearly, the discard ban is a right policy regarding however million tonnes of food is clearly wrong commercially is wrong and it’s wrong morally and so I support the government entirely at what in what I hope is it’s intentions to keep this policy what we have to make sure is that we have a way of implementing it.”
Source: Oliver McBride & House of Lords