The importance of tackling discards: A fisheries policy perspective Luke Warwick – Defra, Environmentally Responsible Fishing
Our View on Discarding • Discarding is of benefit to no one. It’s not only a waste of a valuable resource but also impacts the health of our fish stocks. • Therefore reducing discards is about: • Reducing stock mortality (i.e. not catchingor not killing fish) • Not wasting catches (i.e. Marketing) • Reducing impacts on non target organisms (benthos & sensitive species) • In the UK our largest discarding problem occurs in demersal mixed fisheries; beam and otter trawling. • A solution to this problem requires scientists, policy makers and enforcers to work together. • Recently the Commission released a statement on discards and Defra welcome the view to work together with other MS to reduce discards.
Our Approach to Discards • Defra has primarily turned its focus on discarding in targeted fisheries. • Discarding occurs for different reasons and we consider there to be three types of discarding to tackle in targeted fisheries. • Each type requires different solutions depending on the cause of the problem. • The UK is committed to taking action now on this issue and is already funding/undertaking a wide range of initiatives to understand and reduce discarding. • A solution to discarding will require a range of measures including the development and uptake of selective gears, changes to the management system (CFP) and a behavioural shift from fishermen.
Gear Selectivity Trials • Gear selectivity is an important component in any policy to reduce discards. • Our focus for gear selectivity trials is to reduce the bycatch of unwanted or undersize catch and therefore reduce subsequent discarding. Defra have a number of projects which we are currently funding: • - An eliminator trawl trial which is commissioned to start this year. • - Gear trials and investigating the survivability of Sharks, Skates and Rays • - Two gear selectivity trials in the South West UK beam trawl fishery • 50% project (fishermen behaviour social-marketing aspect). • Other UK based initiatives include: • Scottish Conservation Credit Scheme • Shetland Cod gear trials • - Scottish square mesh trials • - Northern Ireland Square Mesh Trials in Nephrops fisheries
Gear Selectivity Trials • Survivability of Discards (Sharks, Skates & Rays) • From a policy point of view it is desirable to collect more information on species or fisheries for which there are no or only limited data on the survivorship of discards. • To identify skate species discarded in UK fisheries, their condition and discard survival rates. • To improve current estimates on discard mortality so as to improve the assessment of stock status, and inform the development of appropriate mitigation measures, and recommendations of good fishing practice. • - To assess the survivability of porbeagle and spurdog and identify the times of year or particular localities where they may be most vulnerable to capture. • It is also useful to determine if small modifications to gear can improve survivability of discarded organisms. • Modification reduced the total number of fish discarded by 70% • without any loss of commercial species. • - Reduced catch weight = increased survival of discarded Rays.
Understanding & Changing Discard Behavior • 50% Project : South West Beam Trawl fishery • This study is looking at improving the uptake of more selective gears by breaking down barriers and understanding discarding behaviours amongst beam trawler fishermen in Devon. • The focus of the research is on the need to turn science research into real world outcomes. We realise that new gear modifications by themselves will achieve nothing if fishermen don't use them. • This project has used social marketing tools to investigate why fishermen were discarding, find out their views and values and use this knowledge to develop ways to encourage them to take up new gears. • Current results are encouraging - not only are gear trials successful, but also we have had 6 vessels voluntarily taking part, and have seen a real change in behaviour and attitude. The Real test will be if the change in behaviour is permanent.
Gear Selectivity Trials • Part of the 50% project is to develop technologies which minimise bycatch and subsequent discarding of undersize organisms. • The project is working jointly with industry and other agencies to: • - Quantify patterns and causes of discards • - Evaluate the potential efficacy of newly developed gears • It is hoped that this work could facilitate and support an industry shift towards reduced discarding and the uptake of more environmentally-responsible fishing gears.
Gear Selectivity Trials • Two vessels fishing in area VIIe have published results which indicate they have reduced their discarding of juvenile fish (all species) by 60-63%. - A third vessel results will be available soon. • However gear selectivity alone is not a complete solution to discarding. We estimate that we can only reduce discarding by ~40% through gear selectivity alone. • We therefore need to look at other ways to reduce discarding. For example under CFP we would need to push for other management measures.
Discards & CFP Reform • Recent EU commission statement on the CFP generating discards. • Agree that collaboration is necessary between Member States. • - Joining up and sharing of research and knowledge. • This evidence can inform us what changes we can make to the CFP to reduce discards. • We support the Commissions view for Member States to take action now, not simply wait until the CFP reform of 2012. • Ideally we want to get the balance between incentives, enforcement and penalties right to encourage fishermen to change their behaviours. • Interested in the Danish Catch Quota and CCTV trial • However, there would still be a need to consider whether other measures such as (moving on provisions, area closures effort control are needed to ensure a further reduction in discarding. • We are also interested in learning about other initiatives that offer similar reductions in discards.
Electronic Monitoring • We are interested in the benefits of CCTV monitoring: • Can be used as part of a broader scheme to incentivise uptake of selective gears • Provides high coverage at lower cost (per vessel) • Can be used to reduce undersize, over-quota and high grading discards. • Provide data on bycatch of sensitive species. • Provide evidence that fishermen are not using illegal fishing gears. • Defra is planning to further investigate the ability of CCTV • monitoring to reduce discarding. • Marifish could provide a useful platform for Member States to • share and collaborate on investigations into electronic monitoring.
Summary • Working together across Europe is the best way to tackle this issue • Gear modifications alone will not solve the problem. • Industry engagement and more refined management measures will also be needed; • A solution to discarding will require a range of measures including the development and uptake of selective gears, changes to the management system (CFP) and behavioural shift from fishermen.