Fish dumping 'will ruin industry'

Trawlermen sort through fish
Phil Walsh's crew exceeded their cod quota by June
The UK fishing industry is warning it faces ruin unless EU quota rules which see millions of freshly-caught fish end up back in the sea, dead, are changed.

It says fishing crews often continue catching large amounts of fish, such as cod, by accident after exceeding quotas and have no option but to dump them.

The practice leaves crews struggling to make a living, while damaging hopes for sustainability, say environmentalists.

EU commissioner Joe Borg acknowledges the problem but sees no clear solution.

Thousands of tonnes dumped

Quotas strictly limit the amount of fish that each vessel can bring back to port. But there is no such limit on the amount of fish they actually catch.

Often, boats fishing in the "mixed fishery" of the North Sea catch a species or size of fish which is not what they were targeting.

Trawler skipper Phil Walsh told BBC News the quota for cod and other white fish he and other inshore fishermen were allocated by Brussels this year was tiny.

Fish are thrown overboard

By June he had landed all of the cod he was allowed. So, since then, he has been fishing for prawns and dumping prime whiting, haddock and cod, which would fetch as much as £13.50/kg on a supermarket shelf.

"I can't describe the feeling really," he told BBC News.

"It's your livelihood and you spend your life trying to catch it and then you have to throw it back over the side. It's an impossible situation and, unless it is sorted out soon, we will all be finished."

source: news.bbc.co.uk