Discards ban 'will boost fisheries', says new research

Jun 23, 2011

Banning fisheries discards in the North Sea will promote fish stock recovery and increase fishermen's incomes, according to new research by scientists at the University of York.

In the up to 75 per cent of fish are currently dumped after being caught, with the result that many are now badly overfished. In comparison, discards were banned in Norwegian waters in the late 1980s and their fisheries are now some of the most prosperous in the world.

The research, published in the journal Reviews in Fisheries Science, involved a comparison of long-term data sets on cod, haddock, saithe and herring in the North Sea with stocks of these species in the Norwegian North-East Arctic. Norwegian fisheries were in crisis when the discard ban was introduced, but have since rebounded dramatically. The researchers analysed catch rates in the Norwegian fisheries and the age structure of the fish stocks to demonstrate that much of this recovery was down to the discard ban. They also highlighted that current North Sea stocks have the potential to increase even more rapidly than their Norwegian counterparts did.

Lead author, Ben Diamond, who carried out much of the research during his MSc degree in the Environment Department at York, said: "Whilst widely regarded as both unethical and a waste of resources, the discarding of fish at sea has traditionally been considered a necessary evil to help conserve fishery resources. This research directly challenges that view. When combined with other measures, a ban on discards has been shown to be a much more effective means of ensuring fisheries are managed sustainably".

Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart, co-author and supervisor of the study added "I have no doubt that a ban on discarding in the North Sea will benefit both fish stocks and . However, it will need to be introduced sensibly and with the support of all stakeholders. Closing areas with high numbers of young fish, and the use of selective and systems onboard fishing boats will be key tools in this regard. "

The issue of fisheries discards has gained increasing prominence this year with the launch of the Fish Fight campaign by the celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A series of television programmes in January launched a drive to secure a ban on discards through the current reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy and for consumers to dine on a wider range of fish species, many of which are currently discarded. The campaign has generated almost 700,000 signatories to date, sales of alternative fish species have soared, and the European Commission recently proposed plans to phase in a discard ban.

Welcoming these latest research findings Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "This analysis provides a powerful argument for a seachange in the management of European fisheries. The banning of fisheries discards must be the first step in this process."

Nevertheless, some sections of the fishing industry are still critical of plans to ban discards, arguing that the measure will threaten fragile fishing communities by forcing them to land lower value fish.

But Dr Beukers-Stewart says: "Discards simply squander valuable resources. Our research demonstrates that while there may be some short-term costs, a ban on discards is essential if European are to become sustainable in the long term."

Explore further: WWF condemns oil search in Africa's oldest national park

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU sets fish quotas for 2007

Dec 22, 2006

The European Union fisheries ministers have set the 2007 limits for fish catches in European waters.

British cod stocks rebounding

Oct 22, 2007

Researchers say cod stocks around Britain have rebounded enough to permit small catches in the North Sea, The Times of London reported Saturday.

Recommended for you

Invasive vines swallow up New York's natural areas

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —When Antonio DiTommaso, a Cornell weed ecologist, first spotted pale swallow-wort in 2001, he was puzzled by it. Soon he noticed many Cornell old-field edges were overrun with the weedy vines. ...

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

22 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

Apr 23, 2014

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

Apr 23, 2014

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

Apr 23, 2014

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...