EU not ready for fish discard ban, says MEP

Godfrey Bloom in EU parliament
Godfrey Bloom in EU parliament

ONE of Scarborough’s representatives in the European Parliament has played down hopes that EU laws which force fishermen to throw dead fish overboard could be scrapped.

Godfrey Bloom spoke to the Evening News following Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels on the issue of fishing policy reform, which his UKIP colleague Nigel Farage attended.

“Nothing concrete was decided,” Mr Bloom said. “They won’t get rid of the quota system. It’s a system from the lunatic asylum.

“There was no road to Damascus conversion here.”

Fishermen are forced to discard dead fish as a result of the quota system, which limits numbers of fish that trawlermen can land.

The quota system has also been blamed by many in Scarborough for the decline of the town’s fishing fleet.

Hopes have been raised that the practice of discarding dead and dying fish could be banned by 2013. However Mr Bloom is demanding an immediate ban.

“The situation is dire,” he said. “They should have come back and said the quota system, which leads to the discards, stops from midnight tonight.

“We have to get our fishing policy back to Westminster.

“In Europe they are just talking about talking about changing things. We need to take immediate action.”

A high-profile campaign from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall added pressure over the issue, with 650,000 people signing a petition supporting a ban on discards.

Scarborough Councillor Peter Popple as well leading figures in the town’s fishing industry have also expressed outrage over the practice.

Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has stated that she opposes discards and the European Commission has confirmed it is considering introducing a mandatory discard ban as part of its reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Commissioner Damanaki told the Brussels meeting: “I consider discarding of fish unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort.

“So far we have tried to tackle discards with technical measures. But let’s be honest, if we continue this it is like treating a serious illness with Aspirin.”

However UKIP leader Nigel Farage, due in Scarborough on Friday for the Party’s annual conference, has warned that even if a ban is introduced, it is likely to be too little too late for the UK’s fishing industry.

He said: “There are huge problems in implementing this aspiration because there are huge differences between the approach of Mediterranean and North Sea countries.

“This new policy is a red herring for an industry almost dead in the water.”