Discard ban can benefit fish and fishers, but sustainability must come first

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


It was hailed as a great victory for conservation, common sense and people power. Last year the European Commission finally voted to phase out the shameful practice of discarding hundreds of thousands of tonnes of perfectly good fish, either by-catch or target species caught over the allowable quota, as permitted by the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Although hundreds of scientists, NGOs, politicians and legislators worked behind the scenes to make this happen, the issue really hit the public consciousness through the work of the mop-haired part-time celebrity chef/eco-warrior, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. His Fish Fight TV series exposed the images of tonnes of dead fish being dumped overboard to the public. In fact his campaign was so successful that over 870,000 people signed his petition to end discards, and he was granted personal meetings with Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Commissioner.

So why are we now seeing headlines suggesting the discard ban could actually harm wildlife, and that Fish Fight’s campaign was misleading? Hugh was even given the Paxman treatment in a debate on Newsnight.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2014


  • Fisheries
  • Fisheries management
  • by-catch
  • Fisheries discards
  • common fisheries policy

Cite this