asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress is being made with the two discarded fish pilot schemes; whether the results so far are consistent with the European Union's findings that 60 per cent of fish caught are discarded; and whether they will introduce a plan to end the requirement to discard dead fish. [HL1902]
Rates of discarding are highly variable and dependent on the local abundance of fish, individual choices made by fishermen as well as the regulatory environment in which fishermen operate. I assume that the noble Earl is referring to the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot Project and the gear trials in the North Sea Farne Deeps Nephrops fishery.
The intention of the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot Project is to improve the understanding of the nature and extent of discarding in the Irish Sea in order that management measures can be developed to address the problem. The initial phase of the Irish Sea Data Enhancement Pilot has recently been completed. To ensure that the data collected from the pilot are consistent with existing national programmes, data are being validated to ensure that the estimates of discards that result from the project are both realistic and representative. An interim report from the project, which will include a detailed analysis of discarding in the Irish Sea, is scheduled for June for submission to the European Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF).
The North Sea gear trials were conducted during the period 2003-06. The average annual estimated fish discarded by the English and Welsh fishing fleet in the North Sea Farne Deeps Nephrops fishery was 23 per cent (by number), 37 per cent (by weight). These figures are based on data obtained by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) observers who regularly sail onboard these vessels and measure both the catches and discards.