Because these are often injured or dead when they land back in the water. There are, however, exceptions to the discarding rule: part of the catch may still end up in the water in the future. And it is precisely this that is the source of sharp criticism.
The agreement reached on wednesday night will "change the way europe catches fish," said the head of negotiations, ireland’s fisheries minister simon coveney. German agriculture minister ilse aigner (CSU) said: "it was touch and go until the very end whether an agreement was reached at all."She added: "and I am very pleased that there has now been such a clear vote."Only sweden spoke out against the compromise.
Opposition to the compromise came from the european parliament, which must approve the reform. Negotiator ulrike rodust (SPD) criticized it as a setback for the parliament’s ambitious goals. "I lack the imagination to still call this a discard ban," she complained.
She criticized the fact that the ban does not apply without gaps. Because the ministerial agreement calls for the percentage of discards to be reduced to seven percent over several years. In addition, the rule will only be introduced gradually in the various european waters.
Animal rights activists hit the same notch. "Instead of clearly advocating a turnaround in discarding practices, fisheries ministers want to build loopholes into the law that will allow the waste to continue," said WWF expert anna holl. It is completely unclear how the seven percent limit is to be controlled.
Parts of the german fish industry welcomed the outcome in principle. The discard ban means that the actual catch volume will be precisely known in the future, said the managing director of the fish information center, matthias keller.
The german fishing association reacted with restraint. "Whether the reform makes sense or nonsense will only be decided by the details," secretary general peter breckling told dpa in hamburg. It is questionable what, for example, a cod fisherman on the island of ruegen does with the bycatch. He warned against introducing costly sorting processes. "Then some companies will say: "we don’t do that anymore"."
Eu fisheries commissioner maria damanaki wants to help fishermen adjust to the "whole new reality. In april, she wants to discuss ways to help fishermen make the necessary investments with EU funds. For example, new nets can be used for more targeted fishing. As far as more sophisticated fishing techniques are concerned, there is a lack of research capacity in germany, complained the state association of cutter and coastal fishermen in mecklenburg-vorpommern.
The reform also includes the setting of sustainable fish quotas. In the future, fishermen should only catch as many animals as will grow again. The ministers had already agreed on this principle the year before.
At that time, they had already decided on the principle of the discard ban, but postponed controversial details regarding the time schedule and exemption regulations. "It could have been even more ambitious," aigner said after the marathon negotiations. The major fishing nations of france and spain, on the other hand, pushed for higher de minimis limits on discards.
Negotiations between EU member states and the european parliament are scheduled to begin in the second half of march. Ireland wants to have reform in place by the end of june.