Seafood industry moves up a gear in addressing discards

February 9, 2011 17:51

The UK's most comprehensive industry group tackling the problem of discarding fish, the Discard Action Group (DAG), committed to a new plan of intense activity, at its meeting in London yesterday (Tuesday 8 February, 2011), reports with reference to Seafish.

The Group, coordinated by Seafish, the authority on seafood, has agreed to form four new focus groups that will each have its own action plan, with the aim of accelerating any measures that could help reduce discards. The four areas are: Science and information gathering; Regulatory change; Selectivity and technical measures; and Marketing.

Chair of DAG, Mike Park, who is the Executive Chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producer's Association and a Seafish Board Member, said the time had come for the Group to step up its activity to reduce discards.

"DAG has been doing great work for the past three years, acting as an ‘issue forum' and playing a pivotal role in mediating a common approach to discard issues affecting the whole seafood supply chain from sea to plate - from the fishing industry, government, NGOs and processors, through to the retailers and the foodservice sector.

"Recently, the Channel 4 Fish Fight campaign has raised awareness of the issue of discards and reinvigorated the debate - and we are also moving closer to the European debate on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. That's why our group is now going to work more intensely with fishermen, scientists, policy-makers, fishing gear technologists, retailers and the foodservice sector to come up with some real solutions that will address this complex problem."

Yesterday's meeting was also attended by a policy adviser from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Fish Fight campaign, who was gathering information for follow-up television programmes.

Mr Park said: "We have invited Hugh to film on one of vessels involved in  a promising discards initiative already being trialed - the Catch Quota Scheme, where vessels account for all they catch in return for increased quotas."

Last year 23 vessels took part in this project, run by the Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland, and it's being expanded further this year.

Discarding unwanted fish is widely acknowledged as an issue affecting almost all fisheries and fishing methods. Although significant progress has already been made towards reducing the levels of discards, it is now accepted that the rate of change needs to be stepped up.  Discards occur primarily because of markets, poor selectivity, or regulations - either there are no markets for the fish because they are non-commercial or they need to be thrown back as they are legally too small to land, or are over quota.

More than 30 representatives from across the industry attended yesterday's meeting. For more information on DAG visit

If anybody is interested in attending DAG please contact Karen Green at .

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