A new paper, The Unintended Impact Of The European Discard Ban, has found that an increase in annual EU fishing quotas
A new paper, The Unintended Impact Of The European Discard Ban, has found that an increase in annual EU fishing quotas of up to 50% was applied to ‘support’ the implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) – the rule to reduce fish waste – in EU waters in 2020, despite widespread failure to enforce the rule and the continued discarding of fish.
The paper, by Dr Lisa Borges, finds that this discrepancy is likely to lead to an enormous unmeasured increase in fishing pressure, and therefore lead to an implosion of the EU fisheries management system.
“The landing obligation has the potential to be the most significant push for more selective fisheries in Europe in the last 20 years. Usually, when a significant change in law is made that could have a radical effect on fishers’ behaviour it comes with positive and negative incentives. In Europe however, fishers were given extra quota to account for the extra non-commercial catch. But not only are they not landing that extra catch, they are not being monitored or controlled,” said Dr Lisa Borges.
“These significant increases in EU fishing limits, the exemptions to the rules and the lack of monitoring and enforcement are now pushing the EU fisheries management system towards a tipping point. All stakeholders need to acknowledge the impact the Landing Obligation is having on the TAC system and try to minimise it, otherwise we will see our fisheries management system implode,” concluded Dr Borges.
“Dr Borges’ paper confirms what many scientists and conservation groups have been saying for years – without proper counting of catches and enforcement of fishing rules, the result could be massive levels of overfishing and the collapse of fish populations, which in turn breaks down marine ecosystems. This undermines scientific data and the fisheries management system, and ultimately threatens the security of the fishing industry,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Programme Director.
“It’s a disgrace that an industry can get away with such broadscale illegal behaviour, which can devastate a public resource and impact ecosystems, without any repercussions. Instead, EU governments are rewarding these antics with even more fishing quotas. With a number of EU fish populations on the verge of collapse, such as cod and herring, it’s now urgent that the Commission and fisheries ministers start acknowledging unreported, illegal catches by setting more conservative fishing limits and enforcing the rules at sea with remote electronic monitoring,” concluded Ms Hubbard.
The Briefing Paper can be read here.