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Fish Discards

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

Will the Minister outline exactly what he is doing to give incentives to the UK fishing industry to reduce discards?

We have promoted the catch quota scheme, and this year we will see no discards in the North sea from the boats in that scheme. We are extending the scheme to the south-west and I am delighted to announce that four vessels from that region are entering the scheme for the channel sole stock. We are also promoting the “Fishing for the Market” scheme, which I mentioned earlier. Of course, there is the success—applauded abroad and by the Commission—of the 50% project in the south-west. All those examples show how if we work with the fishing industry, we can have a serious impact on the scourge of discards.

Does my hon. Friend agree not only that it is wrong to throw dead fish back into sea, because it damages the viability of our fishermen, but that there is an environmental and marine eco-system effect of which we must also be aware?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have heard evidence of crab potters, for example, saying that the problem is affecting the bait they put in their pots in certain areas. The real point, however, is that in a hungry world, throwing away perfectly edible fish is an affront to the vast majority of the British public, as well as to the fishermen who have to carry it out.