Hugh's Fish Fight persuades European Union to discuss discards

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s  Fish Fight campaign secured a partial victory this week, with the EU hosting meetings on proposals to stop  discards from commercial vessels by 2013.

The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries - Maria Damanaki - has organised talks with ministers in Brussels with the aim of reforming the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - the legislation requiring over-quota catches to be thrown back dead or alive.

Hugh’s Fish Fight campaign - aired on Channel 4 and covered in Angling Times - highlighted the wasteful practice of throwing back dead fish considered of no commercial value. His online petition currently has over 655,000 signatures.

Hugh was delighted with the outcome and quick to praise AT readers for their support.

“We were thrilled when Maria Damanaki came out with this bold proposal to ban discards recently. There will be a lot of wrangling in the coming months and it’ll be interesting to see how many proposals get through, but the important thing is that the issue of discarded fish is right where it should be - at the heart of the discussions.

“AT readers have been fantastic - their help and support has been amazing. But if there’s anyone who supports the campaign who hasn’t signed the petition then please do so, and get your friends and family to do the same,” said Hugh.

A spokesperson for Commissioner Damanaki told AT: “The Commissioner is preparing the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and a discard ban will be central to the policy.

“There are now two big steps: first a substantial text change eliminating discards from the reformed CFP, and secondly taking the proposal to the relevant bodies and get it passed into law. Last week’s meetings were with the decision makers who will decide if this reform passes through into law smoothly, so it is a good sign that four key member states - France, Denmark, Germany and the UK - signed up to the change.”