In an open letter to the Danish fisheries minister Karen Ellemann, dated 21 February, seven NGOs call on Denmark to take action to stop the widespread illegal and unreported discarding in the Baltic cod fishery and suggest solutions for a successful Landing Obligation, which is an obligation under the EU common fisheries policy (CFP).
The letter points out that the discarding of fish not only wastes resources, it increases fishery costs, threatens endangered species and impacts our food webs.
Scientists and experts from countries with effective discard bans have recommended that EU member states substantially increase at-sea monitoring and control to ensure compliance of their fleet.1 However, following the Landing Obligation coming into force in the Baltic Sea at the start of 2015, Denmark actually decreased at-sea inspections from 2015 to 2016 by ten per cent.2 Although widespread non-compliance with the landing obligation in the Baltic Sea is known by fisheries managers and control officers, just two fines were given for discarding in three years, demonstrating the inadequacy and dysfunctional nature of the current control system.
The signatories to the letter: Our Fish, FishSec, Greenpeace, WWF, Danmarks Naturfredningsforening, Levende Hav and BalticSea2020 urge the Danish minister to:
1) Ensure undersized fish are not caught in the first place, by requiring the use of more selective gear types;
2) Implement proven, cost-effective monitoring onboard all vessels above 10m length and in segments with an increased risk of discarding (EFCA classification) in the Danish fishing fleet, e.g through the installation of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) and closed-circuit video surveillance;
3) Increase inspections and control at sea; and
4) Begin re-allocating quota to those in the fishing industry who have minimal impact, such as small-scale passive-gear fishers, and are complying with the law.
In the letter representatives from the NGO-coalition also asks the minister for a meeting to discuss the issues in further details.