The government of Scotland plans to fight illegal discards from fishing vessels with CCTV monitoring.
Seven skippers have been picked for a pilot program to carry the cameras as part of a £100,000 ($164,000) initiative.
In part because of a mismatch between the quota available for North Sea cod and the increased abundance of the stock, around £40 million ($65 million) worth of marketable fish is thrown back into the North Sea every year, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said.
“Our industry has nothing to hide and this initiative will help prove this and hopefully lead to increased quantities being available to land and not set aside as discarded quantities,” said John Buchan, a skipper. “It will also undoubtedly deliver an unquestionable confidence in the actions of Scottish fishermen and the selective gears that they are using.”
WWF has advocated the use of observers onboard fishing vessels for many years, said Louize Hill, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland. “It is therefore great to now see CCTV technology trialled on several Scottish boats,” she said. “Using CCTV not only reduces the cost of observer programs considerably but moves from subjective to objective verifiable data. This is yet another tool in the box of measures being taken by the Scottish fleet to move the industry towards a sustainable future.”
The plan is similar to a successful one in Denmark, the Fisheries Department said. The main aims of the pilot project are:
* To ascertain if it can be used as an effective tool to provide reliable catch/discard observation data
* To establish if it can incentivise fishermen to comply with fisheries management systems and stock conservation initiatives
* To ascertain if it can be used as an effective enhancement to current monitoring and control capabilities particularly with reference to mis-reporting and compliance with discarding bans
* To supplement the work of the Conservation Credits Steering Group (CCSG) in finding further innovative ways to reduce cod mortality In the North Sea, 45 percent of cod caught last year was discarded, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea dvice; 50 per cent of West of Scotland haddock “caught in recent years” (ICES wording) is discarded; 94 per cent of the one-year old North Sea cod that is caught is discarded: and 35 per cent of the North Sea plaice that was caught in 2008 was discarded.