EU fisheries chief suggests an end to catch limits
EUROPE'S fisheries chief has suggested scrapping annual catch limits – the backbone of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy for a quarter of a century.
The radical move would free up fishermen to catch as much fish as they want, unshackled from catch quotas but governed instead by an annual allowance of "days at sea" for each vessel.
The idea was put to MEPs in Brussels by EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg, who last April launched a "consultation" on the CFP's future.
Yesterday, he said one answer could be to drop catch allowances altogether and manage fish stocks by only regulating fishing "effort" – the number of days vessels can spend at sea. Ending quotas would tackle the problem of "discards" – throwing dead fish back into the sea to avoid breaking quota limits.
"Every vessel would receive an allowance in days at sea, which the vessel owners would manage throughout the year.
"The idea here is that the skipper can land all catches. This would be interesting for mixed fisheries since it would greatly reduce discards. It would also take away any reason to falsely declare catches and would be easier to control."
The commission has routinely blamed fishing fleets for over fishing, and governments for failing to enforce catch quota limits.
The result has been seriously-depleted fish stocks despite years of promises to fishing fleets that conservation measures would boost fortunes.
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