In the most significant reform of the fishing industry for almost forty years, fisherman will be prohibited from throwing dead fish back into the sea.
Maria Damanaki, the EU Fisheries Commissioner, announced in July last year that the controversial practice which results in millions of tonnes of perfectly edible fish being wasted each year due to quota rules – will be phased out.
The announcement has been seen as a victory for celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who’s much talked about ‘Fish Fight’ crusade, which called for more ethical fishing, attracted more than 700,000 supporters and forced the matter in to the public eye.
Fearnley-Whittingstall explained that the current method is bankrupt, a fact that is demonstrated by the mandatory discarding of four million tonnes of fish each year. His campaign attracted many celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Richard Branson.
The EU Commission has assured fisherman that the new rules will mean that they can once again enjoy a ‘decent living’, explaining that the planned reform of the quota policy would return fish stocks to sustainable levels within four years.
Damanaki claimed that we need to act now to ensure that all of our fish stocks return to a sustainable level for both existing and future generations. Fisherman should continue to fish and be rewarded with decent earnings, but only under this important precondition.
Under the current system fisherman can throw back as much as eighty per cent of their entire catch either because of the quota rules or because the fish isn’t the right size. If the new system is adopted then fisherman will be required to land their catch in full.
Member of the European Parliament will have twelve months to consider the proposals before they are adopted as law in the new year.
Fearnley-Whittingstall is probably best known for the River Cottage television series which focused on his attempts to become a self sufficient smallholder in rural Dorset.
He is divides his time between a number of different projects including television, journalism and real food campaigning. He also owns the River Cottage Cookery School at Park Farm which provides cookery courses with an emphasis on simple dishes and seasonal ingredients.