#fishing – Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) has welcomed an agreement by EU Council Ministers to ban the practice by which fishermen discard or throw fish back into the sea when they exceed their quota. However, Mr Kelly stresses the need to ensure fishermen are supported throughout the ban's implementation.
"While the wasteful practice of discarding fish had to be banned, I welcome the fact that the ban will be introduced on a phased basis, allowing fishermen the chance to amend their methods of work," Mr Kelly said in Brussels today.
The ban will begin in January 2014 for pelagic stocks, surface fish such as mackerel and herring, moving onto the Baltic Sea by January 2015. Main demersal stocks such as hake and monkfish in the North Sea and the North and South Western waters will be covered by the ban from January 2016. In the last phase of the ban, the new rules will apply to fisheries in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and all other Union waters on January 1st, 2017.
"This is an issue I have regularly raised at an EU level. I am keen to ensure that fishermen are supported in the transitioning period - so we need to see the details of a planned fund to help protect the livelihoods of fishermen as they change practices and begin to land what fish is caught. New equipment to improve the quality of the catch and help identify the type of fish will also be introduced."
Mr Kelly also repeated his concerns over the practices of Dutch-owned fishing vessels of the South West coast. There are allegations of illegal dumping at sea by these vessels which are only declaring what they land at port and not what is actually caught. Their ships are also understood to be equipped with 'mincers' which enables them to engage in what is called 'high grading' or picking out the smaller sized less valuable fish, mincing them and dumping them.
Mr Kelly understands that around 25-40 Dutch factory ships operate off Ireland and are owned or controlled by Dutch companies but not necessarily registered under the Dutch flag.
"We have to protect our valuable marine resources and protect the livelihood of Irish fishermen who are being driven out of business by the illegal and immoral practice of other fleets," Mr Kelly concluded.