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Cetacean Bycatch Observation Scheme (continuation of MB5203) - ME6004

This project will combine on-board fishery observations with records of the fleet fishing effort to estimate the annual total bycatch of marine mammals and other protected species in UK fisheries.
Increasingly, consumers and retailers are demanding that high standards of environmental protection apply in food production; this project aims to provide consumers and retailers with confidence that fisheries are not inadvertently complicit in compromising the conservation status of protected or vulnerable species, or to identify fishery practices where mitigation measures are required to protect vulnerable species.
All fisheries have a certain degree of unwanted and unintended (bycatch), some of which may involved species that are vulnerable to accidental over-exploitation and whose conservation status might be threatened if byctach rates and too high. Because such species are not and cannot be landed, it is necessary to monitor a representative sample of fishing operations in a wide range of fisheries to ensure that bycatch rates are not too high in any of them, to examine the cumulative impact across fisheries and, where necessary, to identify specific fisheries and areas where measures to reduce accidental byctach rates might be needed.
We will place trained independent observers on a representative selection of vessels using specific gear types and in particular regions that are either required under EU law or in which the bycatch of protected or vulnerable species could be having the greatest conservation impacts. we will integrate such observations with data collected since 2005 to determine patterns in bycatch rates, including spatial and temporal patterns, but with the intention of generating the best available estimates of total annual bycatch for all those species for which data are sufficient. We will use landings and effort data collated by the MMO to allow us to raise observed bycatch rates to the entire fleet level, after having stratified the fleet in the most appropriate manner.
The project will deliver annual reports that summarise our observations, provide an overview of total fleet effort by key fishery sector, and estimates of annual bycatch numbers with confidence limits for those species for which we think we have a dependable data set, while for other species a more qualitative description will be provided.
Our general aims will be to provide estimates of the accidental catches in UK fisheries of certain key groups of protected species by monitoring a selected sample of fishing operations and by analysis of fleet behaviour, to provide an understanding of the conservation threat posed by fisheries to these groups. We will focus mainly on marine mammals but birds and sharks will also be addressed.
Our main objective will be to generate annual bycatch estimates for the marine mammal species recorded, and to provide atleast summary indicators of the scale of seabird and shark byctach in the fisheries that we observe. We will produce annual reports at the end of April each year tabulating fishing effort by key fishery and by region, summaries of bycatch observations and associated estimates of protected species annual bycatch.

For reports from prior to 2017 see project MB5203 (2011-2017).
Project Documents
• ANN - Annual Report : UK 812 Report for 2017   (2549k)
• ANN - Annual Report : UK Bycatch Monitoring Report for 2019   (1744k)
• ANN - Annual Report : UK EC 812/2004 Report for 2018   (1127k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2017

To: 2019

Cost: £487,046
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Sea Mammal Research Unit
Marine Mammels