North Sea trials show less than 1% of cod discarded

THE MARINE Management Organisation (MMO) has published the results of catch quota trials, which took place in the North Sea during 2013, revealing that only a very small proportion of cod is discarded.

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The MMO organised the trials on behalf of Defra as part of the UK’s initiative to tackle the problem of discarding fish – where fish are thrown away at sea if they are too small or there is no quota left for a particular species. The trials were designed to encourage fishermen to fish more selectively and land all of what they catch.


A total of 12 different vessels took part in the scheme in the North Sea throughout the year of 2013. They were awarded additional quota for North Sea cod and had an obligation to land and count all catches of cod against quota. To accurately observe and record fishing activity, the boats were fitted with electronic monitoring systems with CCTV.


The new report details how the practice is proving a successful, alternative method of managing fisheries. Results for the 2013 trials show an overall estimated discard rate of North Sea cod of 0.03% (496kg) from a total sampled catch of 1,452 tonnes.


Julian Roberts, Catch Quota Trials Manager for the MMO, said: “We’d like to thank fishermen involved in the trials. I’m pleased to report continued involvement from the fishing industry in the scheme – participant levels have increased from 11 to 14 vessels since the start of 2014.”


The trials are providing the MMO with a better understanding of how a ban on discarding fish may work in practice. The organisation has previously developed and carried out quota trials in both the North Sea and South West in 2011 and 2012. The additional findings from the most recent trial will provide Defra with further evidence to inform work on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.


To read the full report click here.