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Practical steps towards reducing discards and developing more environmentally responsible fisheries - MF1002

Practical steps towards reducing discards and developing more environmentally-responsible fisheries

Primary objective of the project:

To develop technologies which minimise discarding (and therefore environmental impact) to the practicable minimum across all (Eng and Welsh) fishing fleets.

This project is a strategically important project which will service many of the numerous policy issues (discard and environmental impact related) that are important to Defra, industry and the general public alike. It will be an important project as it will integrate with the activities of many other organisations with an interest in discard and environmental impact reduction. It will be practical in nature, primarily focussing on the development of gear-based discard mitigation measures. At its heart, the project will engage industry in developing these solutions and be structured in such a way to ensure that it is a flexible, adaptive and a reactive project.

Fundamental to this project is the systematic analysis of the Cefas ‘catch & discard’ database. This will be used to identify and ‘rank’ discarding patterns which warrant the development of mitigation measures. Such discarding patterns could relate to the species or number of fish discarded / area / time / season / fishing method etc. Supplementary data (i.e. from fisher self- sampling programmes etc) will be used to aid the identification processes as and when suitable data from these soucres becomes available. Similarly, industry input is also expected to help guide this identification process. Within the project, analytical tools which make more effective use of such data will continue to be developed and improved upon.

Once these discard patterns are identified and ranked, the project will aim to develop focussed discard-mitigating solutions jointly with industry and other agencies. These solutions will aim to effectively minimise the problematic discard patterns identified. Solutions might typically be gear modifications, improved onboard catch handling, fishing pattern alterations or new technologies. However, linkages with other projects such as MF10-01 will explore the potential merits of area / time / effort manipulations as alternate methods to mitigate undesirable discarding patterns.

Policy relevance

This work will aid Defra towards implementing the systematic redution of discarding (as far as is practicable), and will help facilitate an industry shift towards more environmentally-responsible fishing. Such activities are in-line with related policies including: Securing the Benefits, The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution study, Defra strategic 20-year vision and the EU’s emerging discard policy.

There is also potential linkage of the project to the European Fisheries Fund in the UK (EFF) in helping to guide resources toward more environmentally responsible fishing methods, as well as dovetailing into accreditation schemes such as the Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme and the Marine Stewardship Council scheme.

Moreover, this work will help to further the generic integration of wider environmental concerns into fisheries management.

Use of results

The results will provide both the industry and Defra, advice / tools on the quantification of the patterns and causes of discards, the economic / biological consequences of discarding, and the potential efficacy of newly developed discard mitigation solutions. The work could therefore be used to directly facilitate and support an industry shift towards reduced discarding and more environmentally-responsible fishing.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : evid4 MF1002   (1865k)
• TPS - Two Page Summary : MF1002 Two Page Summary: How can we minimise discarding in English and Welsh Fishing Fleets?   (282k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2013

Cost: £2,081,580
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environmental Impact              
Sea Fish Stocks              
Stock Conservation              
Fields of Study
Marine Fisheries