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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Peterhead vessel in new drive to cut discards
The eyes of the world are on Scotland's fishermen as they take a major step towards ending the scandal of discards.
Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead was at Peterhead Harbour this afternoon to witness one of seven Scottish vessels being fitted with and testing out cutting-edge CCTV technology.
The £100,000 pilot is using the cameras to enhance monitoring, control and observation capability. A similar plan in Denmark has already begun to show hugely successful results, delivering the evidence and confidence required to effectively deal with the discards issue. The Scottish boats will deliver a wide range of information from both the North Sea and the west coast.
The main aims of the pilot project are to establish:
- If CCTV can be used as an effective tool to provide reliable catch/discard observation data
- If it can incentivise fishermen to comply with fisheries management systems and stock conservation initiatives
- If it can be used as an effective enhancement to current monitoring and control capabilities particularly with reference to mis-reporting and compliance with discarding bans.
To supplement the work of the Conservation Credits Steering Group (CCSG) in finding further innovative ways to reduce cod mortality.
Speaking at today's event, Mr Lochhead said: "The true cost of discards goes far beyond the tens of millions of pounds worth of fish that is currently dumped back into our seas by boats from across Europe. It's a waste of a precious resource on a monstrous scale. In no other industry would it be acceptable for workers to use their skills only for the fruits of their labour to be destroyed.
"Having seen for myself the simple and effective cutting-edge technology I strongly believe that it can make a major contribution to scientific data, fisheries management behaviour and discards reduction. I commend the determination of forward thinking skippers who want to deal with the issue.
"The seven vessels selected for the pilot are now either at sea or in the process of being kitted out. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the trials which we hope will deliver a vote of confidence that the vast majority of our fishermens' actions are responsible.
"This type of initiative will form part of our negotiations in autumn and at the end of the year, where we can bring forward new and more efficient ways to effectively manage our fisheries hand in hand with those who fish them. We are at the forefront of conservation and responsible fishing and expect the Commission to recognise and reward our efforts.
"We'll be supporting the sector every step of the way as they strive to eliminate wasteful practices which cannot continue".
Louize Hill, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland said: "It's great to see CCTV technology, something WWF has long advocated, being trialled on a number of Scottish fishing boats. At-sea observation of fishing practices is the only means to quantify fishery catches and discards. The presence of observers onboard fishing vessels deters bad or illegal fishing practices, helping create an atmosphere of trust for the fishermen working hard to reduce bycatch through the adoption of conservation measures.
"The use of the CCTV system, already being trialled in Denmark, will go a long way in assisting the Scottish Government and industry in improving fisheries sustainability under the Conservation Credits Scheme."
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Issues/Bycatch / discards