New EU rule may bring very odd fish to the table

Portuguese eating habits could see some odd changes in the near future as a result of a recent EU policy, which aims to prohibit fishermen to throw back into the sea unwanted species they have caught.

The measure could lead to unusual fish or other sea creatures reaching Portuguese dinner plates as the unwanted catch, with some exceptions, will be kept on board ships and brought to land.

The majority of the rejected fish are species with low commercial value. According to the Secretary of State of the Sea, Manuel Pinto de Abreu, the fish would have to be valued and a solution found in order to sell.

Both the governments of the Member States and the European Parliament are in favour of the ban. According to Brussels, the rejections represent 23% of the total captures in Europe.

Mackerel was given as an example of an abundant species along the Portuguese coast that was not explored to its full potential until some years ago. Between the years of 2010 and 2012, its capture has seen a 64% rise and its market price has more than doubled.

However, the majority of Portuguese fishermen are not happy with the new proposal. According to the head of Adapi, a fishermen’s association, it is difficult to value any kind of product during an economic crisis and nearly impossible to prevent the accidental capture of certain species in a multi-species fishing industry.

He added that the rejections are not made only for commercial reasons but also for regulatory reasons as the capture of certain fish with a low quota stock – such as monkfish and sole fish – could mean fines for the fishermen if they are brought onshore.

Also on the table concerning new eating habits are jellyfish. The Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations (FAO) have recommended the inclusion of jellyfish in the diets of nations across the world, in an effort to fight their increasing proliferation in the sea.

“If you cannot fight them, eat them” is the motto FAO defended in a recent report, after already having suggested the addition of insects to menus across the world.

According to the UN organisation, the fact that jellyfish feed off the eggs and larva of fish are endangering the fish. The jellyfish population has increased due to the capture of its natural predators and is therefore leading to a decrease in the number of fish in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Scientists from the FAO added that jellyfish hold chemicals that could be used for new medicines and for technology that uses active molecules.