Discarding – throwing part of the catch overboard – is a practice that occurs in virtually all fisheries, except possibly industrial fisheries. Since most of the unwanted catch is thrown back dead or dying, it is clearly a waste of resources. The extent of the problem varies greatly but can reach 75 per cent in some fisheries.
The European Commission has now presented an Action Plan to tackle discarding. The plan provides a general overview of the magnitude of the problem and an analysis of the reasons behind this wasteful practice, and indicates some of its biological and economic consequences. Finally, it presents a number of possibilities for reducing discarding in the future, together with a three-year timetable for implementation.
As a Commission Action Plan, it contains no firm commitments to new EU measures; it does, however, list a number of areas where modifications to the CFP might be sought, e.g. by revising technical measures, as well as other initiatives that can be taken forward by the Commission itself, including studies.