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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Crab potters could use discards, says study from Seafish.


This report from Seafish could have positive outcomes for the fishing fleet in Newlyn where the local crab fleet - with the ports biggest investment in new builds entirely devoted to crabbing - needing tons of bait every day the boats are at sea.

Seafish says:

"Unwanted catches which can no longer be discarded due to the upcoming landings obligation could potentially meet the demand for pot bait, according to a study published by Seafish.

Following analysis of current discards from the English fleet and the pot bait needs of those targeting crab and lobster, researchers carried out commercial sea trials to test the effectiveness of a range of discard species as bait. The study concluded that virtually all species currently discarded by English fishing vessels could be used as effective pot bait for crabbers. However, this was not the case for lobster catches where the sea trials showed a negative impact on the catch rate compared to traditional bait. This is largely because lobsters prefer salted or oiler baits.

The cost and availability of bait is currently seen as a significant issue by the shellfish sector, with the cost of bait accounting for up to 10-11% of the gross turnover. The success of this new source of bait will therefore largely depend on its price.

The report also suggests that facilities to freeze and store bait may be necessary to ensure a constant supply to the market. Fishermen will be able to obtain funding to help with this from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Michaela Archer, Head of Information, at Seafish said: "The bait market could potentially absorb the majority of unwanted catches brought ashore under a landing obligation but the degree to which they will replace existing baits is uncertain and will largely depend on price and whether they benefit those catching shellfish."

The study was jointly commissioned and funded by Seafish and Defra and carried out by the NFFO, as part of Defra's initiative to find a use for discarded fish.