Cefas (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) has analysed fisheries data to estimate the quantity of fish discarded by English and Welsh fishermen. Current estimates do not include data from Scotland or Northern Ireland. The total estimate of all species discarded in 2008 is 17,000 to 25,000 tonnes (approximately 8,000 tonnes of this was made up by the 20 most common commercial species).
The current system for recording catch data does not allow us to differentiate why each fish is discarded. For example, a fish could be discarded because it is undersize (below minimum landing size), over-quota, high-graded or has no market. We therefore cannot assess the weight of over-quota fish discarded in the past 12 months by British fishermen.
Because data on discards are incomplete, any extrapolations to estimate the retail value for the British fleet as a whole are unreliable. Using the average market value of all fish species as a multiplier would give an inaccurate estimate of the retail value of discards. Nor would that methodology take account of the impact of increased supply to the market on price elasticity or the capacity of processors and retailers to manage the increased supply. Again, because of the way catch data are recorded, we would not be able to disaggregate such an estimate to give a specific retail value for over-quota discards. Work will continue this year to build a better picture of discarding and its impacts.