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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Dramatic results in reducing discards announced
An innovative partnership between scientists and the Devon beam trawler fleet has had dramatic results in protecting fish stocks, it was disclosed today. The trials have led skippers reducing the amount of juvenile fish discarded overboard by 57 per cent.
This unprecedented success has been achieved, using modified nets as part of a revolutionary approach that uses a deep understanding of the behaviour and attitudes of fishermen. Previously this technique had only been used in health campaigns to change the public’s lifestyles to reduce the UK’s levels of cancer, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases.
Cefas scientists have worked closely with trawlermen who have volunteered to be involved in the project. Working in partnership they have drastically reduced the number of juvenile fish discarded overboard (typically because they have no market value or legislation forbids their landing and sale). Discarding is widely regarded as a waste of natural resources, disruptive to marine ecosystems and ethically undesirable. Before the trials, the Devon beam trawl fleet had one of the highest discard rates of English and Welsh fisheries.
Nicknamed Project 50% by all those involved, the voluntary trials aimed to reduce the number of juvenile fish thrown overboard by 50 percent. Many industry experts believed this to be an unrealistically high target.
Dr Andy Revill of Cefas, the project manager for the Project 50% said: 'Because we now have a much better understanding of what it’s like to be a trawlerman, and have built the project from the bottom up, the fishermen have achieved amazing results.'
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Issues/Bycatch / discards