The UK’s departure from the EU and the CFP, opens the possibility of designing and implementing a more effective and workable discard policy for UK vessels and vessels operating in UK waters from 1st January.
Initially, the existing landing obligation will stay in place as part of EU retained law. The Fisheries Act 2020, however, provides scope for the UK to amend this body of law and to move towards a more meaningful approach to steadily reducing unwanted catch, where this is technically and economically feasible. The Landings Obligation Forum, and industry/government dialogue group has already begun some preliminary work for this change in the English fisheries. We will be building on solid foundations. Between 2002 and 2012 the English fleet already reduced its discards by around 50%. This figure illustrates that substantial progress was already being made to reduce discards in many fleets across the EU before the political clamour for a “discard ban” led to the current EU landings obligation.
This evidence was studiously ignored by the Fish Fight campaign and until confronted on BBC Newsnight . The campaign had to accept that discards in our fisheries were not a static or growing problem but were in fact, being steadily reduced.
In a nutshell, there is with the UK’s departure from the Common Fisheries Policy an opportunity to reshape the landings obligation into something workable, as part of an integrated and coherent fisheries management system.