DISCARDS have been virtually eliminated by Whitby fishermen taking part in current trials.
The latest report catch quota has been published by the Marine Management Organisation and shows discards of stock such as cod, sole and plaice have been drastically reduced.
Four boats owned by Whitby-based Lockers Trawlers took part in the scheme and James Cross, chief executive of the MMO, said: “This is really good news for all those interested in a long-term, sustainable future for our fishing industry. By working with fishermen to develop innovative solutions, we hope to reduce waste of our marine resources while increasing healthy seas and fish stocks for the future.”
The trials encourage fishermen to fish more selectively, and with a trial discard rate of 0.1%, compared to the North Sea cod average of 38%, the scheme appeared to yield positive results.
The MMO is operating the trials on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as part of the UK’s initiative to tackle the problem of discards - where fish are thrown away at sea if they are too small or there is no quota left for a particular species.
Twelve vessels took part in the trials in the North sea. The boats were not permitted to discard any of the species in the trial, 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. Data from on board monitoring equipment, including CCTV cameras, was used to check the conditions of the trial were adhered to.
Fisheries minister Richard Benyon said: “I am delighted that these results show that the UK continues to lead the way in Europe in trialling schemes which tackle discards through managing fisheries by what is caught, not what is landed. I am keen for these trials to be rolled out to other fisheries in advance of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
“Discarding perfectly good fish is a waste of our natural resources. My aim is to create sustainable fisheries around the UK which are good for the environment and for fishermen at the same time.”
The MMO’s report details how the abolition of discards could be an alternative method of managing fisheries at a time when the Common Fisheries Policy is undergoing reform.