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Fishing Catches

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the most recent estimate is for the time by which the EU discards atlas will be completed; and if he will make a statement. (165543)

Regrettably, the EU Discards Atlas project has still not been put out to tender and it is therefore not yet clear when it will commence. The Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) is however holding a meeting in early December, which will be chaired by a scientist from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), to identify the EU fisheries with the highest discard levels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to reduce North Sea fish discards; and if he will make a statement. (168303)

[holding answer 26 November 2007]: In line with the latest scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the UK is proposing a modest increase of 15 per cent. in the North sea cod total allowable catch (TAC) for 2008. We believe this will reduce the scale of discarding, while the days at sea limitations under the EU's cod recovery plan will ensure that there is no additional targeting of the stock.

At the same time, the Government are developing with the UK industry a series of alternative measures designed to reduce fishing mortality. These include the piloting of a real-time closure mechanism in Scottish waters, where vessels are required to move grounds if the proportion of smaller fish in the catch exceeds a pre-determined maximum. Additionally, more selective fishing practices, developed in consultation with the fishing industry, are being commercially trialled with a view to more widespread application if successful.