Discard Survivability

Identifying Potential Candidate Species in the Shetland Demersal Fishery for a Discard Ban Survival Exemption

May 2017

Description

The aim of this project was to investigate potential candidate species for survival assessments in the mixed demersal fishery in the northern North Sea, with a view to identifying species that might be eligible for an exemption to the discard ban due to their high survival rates.

Full survival assessments are resource intensive and costly and should therefore be targeted at species and fisheries where survival is likely to be high.

Observers were used onboard local demersal fishing vessels to evaluate the vitality and survival potential of cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, lemon sole and plaice caught with single and twin-rig otter trawls and with seine nets.

Start Date and Duration

The project started in September 2016 and was completed in May 2017.

Funding

Funding was received from Shetland Islands Council and in-kind contributions were made by local fishing industry.

Outputs

A project report is available (see Download above).

Contact

For any inquiries or further information please contact Dr Chevonne Angus.

Download the Project Report

Identifying Potential Candidate Species in the Shetland Demersal Fishery for a Discard Ban Survival Exemption (pdf)

Report Summary

The background to this study is that Article 15, paragraph 2(b) of the Common Fisheries Policy Basic Regulation allows for the possibility of exemptions from the landing obligation for species for which: "scientific evidence demonstrates high survival rates, taking into account the characteristics of the gear, of the fishing practices and of the ecosystem” (ICES, 2014a). The demersal landing obligation has a phased implementation and discussions between NAFC Marine Centre and local industry during early-2016 ascertained that the identification of potential candidate species for exemption due to high survival was a key research priority for industry.

The possibility of exemptions based on survivability has led to renewed interest in the subject. It is recognised that the survival rate of a given species will differ between different fisheries and due to a range of different factors including, fishing gear, fishing practices, catch composition and catch handling. As such each fishery will need to provide evidence of ‘high survivability’ and apply separately for an exemption. However, ‘high survivability’ is not defined within the legislation.

The aim of this study was to investigate potential candidate species for survival assessments in the mixed demersal fishery in the northern North Sea. Full survival assessments are resource intensive and costly therefore should only be undertaken on species and for fisheries where there is a good chance of an exemption being obtained. We evaluated vitality and survival potential following protocols outlined by Benoît, et al., (2010) for six species (cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, lemon sole and plaice) caught with three gear types (single otter trawl, twin-rig otter trawl and seine net) in the mixed demersal fishery in the northern North Sea.

Plaice and lemon sole had the best vitality scores across all fishing gears. The best vitality scores were from seine net vessels for all species except cod. In the single trawl and seine net trips that we observed around 50% or more plaice and lemon sole each had vitality scores that suggest that they had a good chance of post-discard survival. We therefore conclude that only plaice and/or lemon sole caught with either seine or single trawl may be worth considering further for potential high survivability exemptions.