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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Organisations work closely to develop a spurdog by-catch avoidance programme.



Following significant efforts by all involved, a by-catch allowance was secured that enabled further development of this novel approach to manage spurdog: eliminating high levels of dead discarding; reducing fishing mortality; continuing stock recovery; and avoiding a potential ‘choke’ species under the landing obligation.

Organisations involved:

  • Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CFPO)
  • Cornish fishing fleet,
  • Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
  • Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra),
  • Shark Trust
  • Marine Management Organisation (MMO)


We are now moving to the next phase; expanding use of the spurdog by-catch reporting tool to 6 vessels, using a variety of gears such as trawls and nets, in the South West. This pilot project requires fishermen to provide real-time, daily reports of their spurdog by-catch, using a grid reference system. This information is used to produce advisory maps, using a ‘traffic-light’ system to inform fishers of areas where there is a risk of encountering this species. A 2 Tonne (t) monthly by-catch allowance is permitted for those participating vessels. Only those spurdog that are dead at the moment when the fishing gear is hauled on board the vessel can be retained, landed and sold. Any spurdog encountered beyond this allocation has to be reported in line with the project requirements but cannot be retained and landed. Use of the reporting tool and uptake of the by-catch allowance will be closely monitored by the CFPO, MMO and Cefas.

The CFPO is also working closely with Cefas and the Shark Trust to train skippers in the operation of the daily reporting tool and handling of spurdog to maximise survivability. The Shark Trust has played an active role in producing a code of conduct and handling guide that the vessels will follow when engaged on this programme.

Full traceability through the supply chain will be achieved by the use of tallies attached to the boxes of spurdog prior to them being landed. The tallies will identify the dead spurdog that have been landed legally under this programme for onward sale.

As part of the selection process, those vessels selected have space on board to facilitate the appropriate handing of spurdog, represent the gear types known to interact with spurdog, and are able to submit daily reports when fishing.

The MMO have issued dispensation letters to the selected vessels taking part in the avoidance programme that allows those vessels to retain on-board and land dead spurdog.

If you would like any further information, please contact Cefas on 01502 527719 or CFPO on 01736 351050.

Further information on previous projects can be found at: A Spurdog Case Study; and the Spurdog Bycatch Avoidance Programme.