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Drift-Net Fishing

Volume 171: debated on Tuesday 1 May 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has on the extent of the bycatch of non-target fish in drift-nets on United Kingdom boats.

Precise information on the level of non-target fish bycatches in our drift-net fisheries is not readily available. However, through the appropriate choice of mesh size and net placement our fishermen are known to ensure selective fishing achieving a relatively clean catch of the target species.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there are any plans to establish an observer programme to investigate the incidental capture of non-target species, particularly birds and marine mammals in United Kingdom drift-nets.

We have no plans for a scheme that would involve observers being placed on fishing boats. The drift-net fisheries around the UK are relatively small scale and in the main targeted on herring and salmon. The accidental catch of birds or marine mammals is not judged to be a frequent or significant occurrence. There is no evidence that these fisheries are threatening the survival of any species.