Discards reduced through catch quota trial
A report released today by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) reveals catch quota trials have significantly helped to reduce the amount of fish being thrown away at sea.
The MMO is operating the trials on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as part of the UK’s initiative to tackle the problem of discarding fish – where dead fish are thrown away at sea if fishermen have no quota left for a particular species.
The MMO's final report for the 2011 catch quota trial scheme details how the practice is proving a successful, alternative method of managing fisheries. It shows that fishermen involved in the trials are discarding around 0.2 per cent of the cod and sole they catch.
In 2010, the average discard rates were 38 per cent for North Sea cod trawlers and 28 per cent for Western Channel sole beam trawlers.
Three vessels took part in the trial in the South West along with twelve in the North Sea. The boats were not permitted to discard any West Channel sole or North Sea cod, including those below the minimum size.They had to land all of the fish of these species that they caught so they all counted against their quota. Once the quota was used up they had to stop fishing completely. On board monitoring, including CCTV cameras, checked whether they are following the rules.
Catches of undersized fish in the trial were also low, suggesting that boats are fishing more selectively.
James Cross, Chief Executive of the MMO said "I’m really proud of our work and the contribution from the fishing industry in helping to develop innovative solutions to challenges facing both fishermen and the marine environment.
"The fantastic results of the trial demonstrate how beneficial it is for us to work together in looking at alternative ways of managing fisheries.
"We look forward to continuing this work in 2012-13 and achieving a more sustainable future for the industry."