Discarded fish in European waters: general patterns and contrasts

To reduce the practice of discarding commercially fished organisms, several measures such as a discard ban and extra allowances on top of landings quotas (“catch quota”) have been proposed by the European Commission. However, for their development and successful implementation, an understanding of discard patterns on a European scale is needed. In this study, we present an inter-national synthesis of discard data collected on board commercial, towed-gear equipped vessels operating under six different national flags spanning from the Baltic to the Mediterranean Seas mainly between 2003 and 2008. We considered discarded species of commercial value such as Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), European hake (Merluccius merluccius), and European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa). Comparisons of discard per unit effort rates expressed as numbers per hour of fishing revealed that in the Mediterranean Sea minimum size-regulated species such as hake are generally discarded in much lower numbers than elsewhere. For most species examined, variability in discard rates across regions was greater than across fisheries, suggesting that a region-by-region approach to discard reduction would be more relevant. The high uncertainty in discard rate estimates suggests that current sampling regimes should be either expanded or complemented by other data sources, if they are to be used for setting catch quotas.


bycatch, Common Fisheries Policy reform, Data Collection Framework, discard reduction, Europe, monitoring

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Uhlmann Sebastian S., Van Helmond Aloysius T. M., Stefansdottir Elisabet Kemp, Siguroardottir Sigriour, Haralabous John, Maria Bellido Jose, Carbonell A., Catchpole Tom, Damalas Dimitrios, Fauconnet Laurence, Feekings Jordan, Garcia Teresa, Madsen Niels, Mallold Sandra, Margeirsson Sveinn, Palialexis Andreas, Readdy Lisa, Valeiras Julio, Vassilopoulou Vassiliki, Rochet Marie-Joelle (2014). Discarded fish in European waters: general patterns and contrasts. Ices Journal Of Marine Science. 71 (5). 1235-1245. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fst030, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00198/30932/

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