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Applied Science to Support the Industry in delivering an end to discards (ASSIST) - MF1232

The ASSIST project is designed to enable the successful implementation of the new European policy to end discarding in commercial fisheries. It will support Defra in the adoption of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) while assisting the fishing industry in maximizing revenue during the implementation process.

In February 2013, the EU Parliament voted for a new CFP, and agreement has been reached by European Ministers, accelerating change. The EU Commission stated that the wasteful practice of discarding fish must be gradually stopped with clear obligations and deadlines, allowing fishermen the time to adapt. Decisions on fisheries management must be taken with the involvement of fishermen and stakeholders, and must take into account the specificities of the sea basins. Science conducted by Cefas alongside the fishing industry will provide Defra with the evidence it needs to successfully implement the reformed CFP. The details of the reforms have yet to be finalized, but the EU Parliament, EU Council and EU Commission have expressed their commitment to end discarding during the period 2014-2018.

The new CFP will bring about a substantial change in the way fishing vessels operate. The basic principle is to provide a limit of total catch for commercial species and once any of the catch quotas in a fishery are met, fishing activities stop. This land-all-catch policy will internalise the costs of catching unwanted fish and fishermen will be incentivised to avoid catching low value fish and avoid catching the most restricted species. It is expected that for fishers to maximise the revenue from their quotas, fishing methods will need to change.

The principles of the reformed CFP toward discards will be:
• All fish catches will be subtracted from a quota (hereafter catch quota)
• Once a catch quota is met fishing operations stop
• All catches of fish (with catch quota) will be retained on board, recorded and landed (i.e. a discard ban)
• Implementation will occur within a phased approach with a defined timetable (2014-18)

The ASSIST project will use a collaborative approach, working with Defra, fishermen and other stakeholders to facilitate these changes in a systematic approach that will parallel the CFP implementation timetable. The project will: Investigate how the introduction of catch quotas and their implementation will effect different sectors of the fishing industry; Identify and exchange information with regional groups of fishermen to validate current estimated catch and discard patterns and drivers; Identify and evaluate practical measures to avoid unwanted catches, meet environmental objectives and maximise revenues; Facilitate the move to managing a land-all-catch policy, including developing and evaluating methods that enable total catch monitoring.
Formulate annual plans based on policy priorities at the start of each year following a project steering group meeting with members of the Cefas research team and relevant Defra staff including the CFP implementation team (cost £9,565).
The following objectives and project plan are flexible and can adapt to the outcomes of (1):
2. Generate concise and easy to understand information describing catch and discard patterns and drivers of the English fishing fleet, in the context of the CFP implementation plan. The analyses will be used to identify segments of the English fishing fleet where expected catch compositions are least harmonised with catch quota compositions. This objective will include using data from the observer programme (and other sources) to provide scientific support to catch quota trials and investigate how scientific data from fully documented fisheries can be integrated into existing monitoring programmes designed to meet the needs of DCF (DC-MAP), MPA/MCZs and achieving GES under the MSFD (cost £37,038).
3. Updating reviews on the latest information on fishing gear technologies relevant to the English fleet and discard survival estimates and present it in a format relevant to the CFP implementation plan. This objective will also include examining the implications for technical conservation measures in the context of the new CFP (cost £15,643).
4. Identify and contact fishing industry groups in England who will be affected by the land-all-catch policy and administer communications between groups throughout the project life-span (cost £12,793).
5. Disseminate information on catch patterns, outputs from (2) and (3), and exchange knowledge on discard patterns, mitigation measures, and control and safety issues with the industry groups identified in (4) in the context of the reformed CFP (cost £91,416).
6. Based on the outputs of (5), and with agreement from the fishing industry, identify uncertainties and priority areas that require operational studies (cost £10,478). These are expected to be in all of the following areas:
a. Fishing gear technology developments;
b. Handling previously discarded catches;
c. Developing and evaluating fully documented fishery technologies and approaches.
7. Conduct collaborative studies with the fishing industry identified as priorities in (7). Here we have planned to conduct four operational studies in priority fisheries for fishing gear selectivity, two studies on handling undersized fish, and two studies to develop fully documented fishery approaches (cost £928,728).
8. The formal and mandatory project management process will be adopted to ensure control over every aspect, including its financial management. This objective will include maintaining a watching brief on all relevant global developments, presenting the project findings, securing matched funding and reporting costs (cost £330,016, includes all project related T&S).
Project Documents
• TPS - Two Page Summary : MF1232 initial two page summary final   (448k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2018

Cost: £1,432,318
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Fields of Study
Marine Fisheries