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Thursday, 8 May 2014

UK fishing industry trials look at how a discards ban may work in practice


Grant Course, Senior Marine Trials Officer at the Marine Management Organisation, writes about how trials are looking at how a fish discards ban may work.

Fisheries Minister George Eustice recently said that the UK is: “committed to further extension of catch quota schemes as part of transition to CFP reform”. These schemes, involving the UK fishing industry and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), are showing that there is a viable alternative to discards, ensuring a sustainable future for both our fish stocks and our fishing fleet.

Some of the monitoring equipment used on board fishing vessels taking part in the catch quota trials As part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) a ban on discards – where dead fish are thrown away at sea if fishermen have no quota left for a particular species, will be introduced in Europe from 2015. Discards in ‘pelagic’ fisheries (such as mackerel and herring) will be banned from 1 January 2015 with a further ban on discards in other fisheries starting from 1 Jan 2016.

In the UK the fishing industry and the MMO have been looking at ways to tackle discards for a number of years. Through the catch quota trial schemes, taking place in the North Sea and the South West, discards of important stocks such as sole, cod, plaice, megrim and anglerfish have been drastically reduced.

Camera, part of monitoring equipment used on board fishing vessels taking part in the catch quota trials Camera, part of monitoring equipment used on board fishing vessels taking part in the catch quota trials The trials encourage fishermen to fish more selectively. Boats taking part in the scheme are provided with additional quota and in exchange they are not permitted to discard any of the species in the trials, including those below the minimum size. They have to land all of the fish of these species that they catch so they all count against their quota. Data from onboard monitoring equipment, including CCTV cameras, is used to check the conditions of the trial are adhered to.

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BBC News story on discards and how the new legislation may work in practice.


Channel 4 story on discards and how the new legislation may work in practice.