eu Discarding fish at sea may be banned, EU officials say After acknowledging the failure of current fishery policies within the union, EU officials are now considering banning the practice of discarding fish at sea.

What’s the point of setting a quota if fishermen aren’t accountable for the fish they actually catch?” says Mogens Schou, a Danish fishery official.

The EU’s quotas limit the size of the annual catch that countries and their fleets can sell on their return to harbour, but instead of protecting remaining fishing populations from depletion, the system is making fishermen dump lower-value fish at sea to maximize profit. According to officials in the European Commission’s fisheries office, most of these fishes do not survive.

To stay under their quotas, and make more money, fishermen discard half of what they catch,” says Schou, “They ‘high-grade’ – in other words, only keep the most profitable fish.”

Last month, an EU report was released highlighting the failure of current EU fishing regulations by showing that 88% of fish species in EU waters are being fished out faster than they can reproduce. In response to the report, fishery ministers from the 27 EU nations are currently discussing how to protect the remaining fish stocks from complete eradication.

As a part of these talks, Denmark has proposed an amended quota system where fishermen and their countries are held accountable for the amount of fish caught rather than the amount returned to port. To make it harder for fishing fleets to cheat, Denmark is also proposing that fishermen voluntarily equip their boats with on-board cameras. In exchange, the fishermen would get bigger quotas.

Denmark has already designed a surveillance kit consisting of four cameras, a GPS (Global Positioning System) device, and sensors that notice when fish is being hauled or dumped. The Danish kits are currently being used on six fishing boats with Danish officials monitoring the footage.

Danish fisherman Per Nielsen installed the kit on his trawler Kingfisher in September and believes it to be a good investment. The kit cost roughly 10,000 USD, but Nielsen was compensated by being allowed to catch several extra tens of thousands of dollars worth of cod.

As of now, EU fishermen throw overboard an estimated 50% of the fish they catch and did for instance dump 38% of the 24,000 tons of cod they caught last year, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.