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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Denmark suggests cameras to stop EU's overfishing
Brussels - Denmark urged Europe on Monday to stop over-regulating its fisheries sector and help species survive by overhauling policy and taking steps such as putting video cameras on boats to stop fishermen cheating.
Danish Fisheries Minister Eva Kjer Hansen suggested the European Union would do well to copy her pilot scheme, under which fishermen who catch unwanted fish with other species are prevented from throwing them back into the sea to die.
"We should move from landing quotas to catch quotas - meaning that everything that is caught is brought to land," she said before a meeting of EU fisheries ministers which will discuss policy reforms due to be agreed in 2012.
The EU's Common Fisheries Policy has been reviewed every 10 years since its creation in 1983. The latest reform was agreed in 2002.
"We have a very complicated policy with a lot of rules and micro-regulation which fishermen don't like," Hansen said.
"There's a big wish to see if we can do something else than coming up with another regulation ... It's now time to see whether we can have a total change in the fisheries policy."
The European Commission, which instigates and monitors EU fisheries policy, blames the dire state of fish stocks mainly on fleet overcapacity and persistent rule flouting such as unreported catches, quota-busting and use of illegal net sizes.
Europe imports two-thirds of the fish it consumes and scientists estimate 80 percent of EU fish stocks are overexploited.
Many species such as cod and hake are depleted in certain EU waters after years of overfishing, exacerbated by poor controls and fines that, until recently, were not high enough to deter law-breakers and quota-busters.
Cameras on board?
Denmark has asked the Commission to propose limited and voluntary introduction of its pilot scheme involving onboard video cameras from January 2010.
Six Danish vessels, which have been equipped with cameras since September 2008, are successfully operating the scheme.
Hansen said the cost of installing the cameras was about 6,000 euros (5,281 pounds) per vessel. The incentive for fishermen was that they stood to receive an increase in their allowed catch quotas if they played by the rules, she said.
Hansen said it should be possible to reallocate some of the fish that would otherwise be wasted to a boat's permitted catch - thereby raising quotas and allowing more fish to live.
"It's very important there's an incentive for the fishermen. And higher quotas certainly works. It's more income. You do something for the fish and also for the fishermen," she said.
She quoted scientists as saying that of all cod caught in the North Sea in 2007, about 39 percent was landed at authorised EU ports, 38 percent discarded and 23 percent unreported, meaning it was probably caught illegally.
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Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance
Political processes/EU Common Fisheries Policy