Discarding in English Fisheries
Fishing For The Markets
What is discarding?
- In commercial fisheries, some unwanted fish are often caught in the nets. These fish end up getting thrown back to sea (known as discarding)
What are the causes of discarding?
There are two main reasons for discarding fish:
(1) The markets don’t exist for all of the fish that are caught in the fishing gears (i.e. unpopular and unfamiliar species which no one wants to buy). About 17% of all fish caught on average, are discarded for this reason. 'Fishing for the Markets' is looking to find ways to help develop new markets for these fish.
(2) Fisheries regulations prohibit some of the fish that are caught from being landed. Quota restrictions are believed to result in an average of 7% of the catch being discarded. Fish too small to be legally landed causes 8% of the catch to be discarded (2008 data: see pie chart below).
Why don't the fishermen only catch the fish they want to keep?
- It is almost impossible for fishermen to predict exactly what will be in the catch when the nets are hauled.
- The waters around England are rich in marine life with many hundreds of different fish species (of all shapes and sizes) on the fishing grounds at any one time.
- In recent years, there has been some progress to improve the ‘selectivity’ of fishing nets, so that fewer unwanted fish are caught.
- Fishing gears can often be improved, but can rarely be made totally selective and will therefore always catch a range of species.
What can be done to reduce discarding?
A combined approach as outlined below will reduce discarding in our fisheries:
- We can make more use of the 'less popular' fish species which are being caught and discarded. The ‘Fishing for the Markets’ programme is looking at this issue in depth.
- Make the fishing nets used in all our fisheries as selective as possible.
- Make appropriate changes to the existing fisheries regulations (i.e. change the existing quota regulations).
Some facts about discarding by English vessels