LogoDiscardLess Strategies for the gradual elimination of discards in European fisheries

“Challenge” experiments in a compiled cluster report and final avoidance manual

This Deliverable is principally intended to provide the results of the three “Challenge” trials carried out under Task 4.2 the Fisherman’s story – “challenge” experiments. As the “challenges” included both tactical/strategic adaptations to the LO and also allowed free use of gear changes or modifications, we have combined the two aspects in this report.

Chapters 1-3 present the results of the “Challenge trials” in Ireland, Denmark and France, and their findings. Chapter 4 summarises the material in Deliverable 3.1. and a component on developing industry-science collaborations on improving selectivity from Deliverable 3.2. 

In the “challenge” experiments individual vessels and crew were challenged to reduce their discards by whatever legal means available. Each vessel could fish alternately with their normal approach and with the aim to minimise the discards over a predetermined period, reporting the decisions they make and the rationale behind them. Observers were placed on-board to collect catch and discard data, and also train crews in self sampling approaches. Skippers were asked to set themselves a target for discard reduction between the trial and the control trips, and this was the core of the “challenge”. The targets could be in terms of reducing discards of TAC species in general, or of those that represent the major “choke” species in their fishery. Catch data were analysed to determine success at reaching this target, and successful tactics included in the “best practice” manuals and disseminated at annual case workshops.

Challenge trials were carried out in three different countries and across a number of fisheries:

  • Ireland – one demersal trawl vessel targeting whitefish (cod, haddock and whiting) and one targeting nephrops with additional catches of the same fish species.
  • Denmark – 12 vessels mainly fishing cod and saithe, with three nephrops targeting vessels. The vessels towed a mix of single and twin rigs, and were distributed between the North Sea, the Skagerrak, and the Baltic Sea.
  • France – 3 vessels targeting a mix of species including cod, whiting, squid cuttlefish and some pelagic species. The vessels were all trawlers, two under 18m, and one over 18m.  

The approach was slightly different in the three countries. In Denmark, the main option explored by fishers was gear modification, and the data were mostly collected by the fishers themselves, supplemented with Fully Documented Fishery (FDF) methods. In France and Ireland, the approaches included both gear and tactical modifications, with full observer coverage.

  This deliverable also includes the outputs from Deliverable 3.1. on gear based methods for reducing discards. Particularly important for the „challenge trials“ was the „Selectivity in Trawl Fishing Gears“ report, which also included a range of fact sheets on the performance of particular gears and modifications. This manual is available for download at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Publications/stats/Science/SMFS/2017/0801 and also on http://www.discardless.eu/selectivity_manual

David Reid

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