Collection of Data to Inform the Implementation of a Discards Ban
Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 7 No 12
This project has trialled self-sampling by fishermen as a means of collecting information on discards. In the process a significant quantity of additional information has been collected on the nature and scale of discarding in the Scottish mixed whitefish fishery in the northern North Sea. The results have confirmed species such as hake, saithe and cod as some of the biggest components of whitefish discards. They have also indicated that the vast majority of discard fish in this area are potentially marketable; that is, larger than the minimum landing size (the primary reason given by Shetland fishermen for discarding is lack of quota over the course of the year). The principal exceptions were rays (there is little market demand for small rays) and ling (where most discarded fish are below the minimum landing size). The results have also identified small, but regular, discards of pelagic species such as herring and mackerel in the whitefish fishery. In the absence of observers it was not possible to directly verify the results obtained from the analysis of the samples, but comparison with data from other sources and the internal consistency of the self-sampling data has suggested a reasonable level of confidence in them. An analysis has also been carried out of the potential implications of the discards ban for fishermen in the Scottish mixed whitefish fishery, including an estimation of the potential costs of handling, landing and disposing of unmarketable discards, and an evaluation of the potential impacts of quota limits on individual species.