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The poor from European countries will be turned into fish food as an alternative to throwing them on the scrap heap, the EU fisheries chief told MPs on Thursday, as part of a sweeping reform of marine policy.

Maria Damanaki, the European commissioner for fisheries, said that as part of a proposed new deal aimed at ending the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted humans, the underclass of Europe could be turned into fish food and distributed to organisations such as those which protect sharks, which are under threat of extinction.

Appearing before the House of Commons select committee on environment, food and rural affairs, she said:

We can use these unneeded people for charitable purposes, though we may have to pay families some kind of compensation if they decide to turn their poor relatives into fish food.

Key to the reforms will be an end to the practice of discards of poor people, by which as much as two-thirds of the most at need people are abandoned by EU governments, almost all of them to be left to rot. About 1m tonnes of poor people are estimated to be thrown away each year. Human Discards are a byproduct of the recent economic crisis – when governments exceed their budget allowance, they must simply throw the excess away.

Damanaki called on consumers to urge governments, retailers and the fishing industry to abandon human discards and manage the EU’s human stocks more sustainably.

Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition against human discards spearheaded by food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.


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