Drastically reducing discards ?

Discards – where fish are thrown away at sea – have been virtually eliminated by fishermen taking part in current trials, according to the latest catch quota report from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

For years the commercial fishing sector argued that discards were unavoidable, but thanks to a number of more forward thinking skippers and a flexible approach by government, that old chestnut has been exposed as being untrue.

The report shows discards of important stocks such as sole, cod, plaice, megrim and anglerfish have been drastically reduced in the trials which started in 2011 and carried on through 2012 involved North Sea and West Channel fishermen and encouraged them to fish more selectively and land all of what they catch.

Participating vessels were provided with additional quota that amounted to three quarters of the amount typically discarded in these fisheries but had to land all of the fish of these species that they caught so they all counted against their quota, including those below the minimum size.

Whilst this is a good step forward it does little to address the issue of the bycatch of non-target species, consequently, in fisheries where bycatch makes up the greater percentage of discard, there will be very little impact.

Category: Commercial

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