REGULATIONS due to come into force in January 2016 could ultimately prevent over 25,000 tonnes of dead fish being thrown back into the sea every year, which is equivalent to 22 per cent of the Scottish catch, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said today.
Fish discards are a problem in nations across Europe and even though Scotland has made more progress than most, Scottish discards are still enough to fill over 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The figures come as the regional groups are set to recommend a phased approach to the discard ban in both the North Sea and the North West Waters, which Mr Lochhead welcomed as a “sensible and measured position.”
Speaking at the Fishing Expo in Aberdeen, Mr Lochhead outlined how joint regional plans for the new regime are progressing. He said: “The fishing expo this year was bigger than ever before and it was heartening to see the industry in a buoyant mood – with quay-side landing and seafood exports reaching record highs and talk of new boats being ordered.
“No-one wants to see dead fish being thrown back into the sea – least of all our fishermen. It’s also a waste of food that goes against the grain of what the public want.
“With just over seven months to go until the discard ban covers some of our most popular fish including cod, haddock and monkfish, the industry is entering its biggest period of change in a generation.”