By Macer Hall
FRESH anger over “mad” European Union fishing quotas erupted last night after an investigation showed that British fishermen are being forced to throw back nearly half of every haul into the sea.
New figures revealed that nearly a million tons of edible fish are chucked overboard every year across the whole North Sea trawler fleet.
The shocking extent of the waste caused by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy will be shown next week in a Channel 4 documentary by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Today, the Daily Express is publishing a compelling 24-page supplement setting out exactly why membership of the EU has been ruinous for the UK. For the programme Hugh’s Fish Fight, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall joined a trawler crew at sea 80 miles west of the Shetland Islands to witness the farcical dumping of more than 1,300lb of prime fish.
“It’s not just a few undersize or damaged fish. It’s basket after basket of prime cod and coley,” Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said.
He calculated that around 600 kilos of fish were thrown back after one five-hour trawl of the nets.
“I could have fed 2,000 people with these fish. But EU law says they can’t be landed, they must be thrown back,” the TV chef said. EU fish quotas were introduced to protect dwindling stocks of fish by curbing excessive fishing of certain species. But the regulations mean crews are forced to dump millions of dead fish when over the maximum limit.
English and Welsh fishing vessels have discarded 4.8 million cod, 3.9 million haddock, 4.9 million plaice, 737,000 sole and 17 million whiting in the last 10 years, according to Government statistics.
Tory backbencher Peter Bone, a member of the Better Off Out group of MPs, said: “Nobody in their right mind would think it sensible to chuck millions of perfectly edible fish into the sea. This is purely to support an EU fishing law that has failed.
“Britain must get back its powers over fishing rights. And the best way to do that is to get out of the EU.”
The Channel 4 programme shows how the 600-ton trawler the Seagull fished for monkfish, megrim and ling after using up its quota for cod months ago.
Gary Much, skipper of the Seagull, tells the programme: “I can’t put a sign on the nets saying: ‘No cod today, please.’
“If we could land all the fish we catch, we could go to sea for half as many days using half the fuel and no fish would be wasted. It’s madness.”