Scottish Government
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CCTV on fishing boats get green light

Cutting edge technology which will help radically reduce fish discards is to be installed on Scottish vessels over the coming weeks.

Seven skippers have been selected from a list of volunteers to participate in the pilot which will use CCTV to enhance monitoring, control and observation capability. Installation of the CCTV monitoring equipment is expected to take place over the next month as part of the £100,000 initiative.

A similar plan in Denmark has already begun to show hugely successful results in cutting discards. The Scottish boats will deliver a wide range of information from both the North Sea and the west coast.

It's claimed a significant amount of fish that is currently caught could be legally landed but instead is actually discarded.

One important reason is the mismatch between the quota available for North Sea cod and the increased abundance of the stock, particularly the abundance of marketable fish above the minimum landing size.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"The scandal of dumped fish has shot up the agenda since we held our Discards Summit and revealed that around £40 million worth of marketable fish is thrown back into the North Sea every year. Working together we can come up with a solution which benefits everyone - fishermen, the environment, and consumers.

"This is a hugely exciting initiative using cutting edge technology that can make a substantial contribution to scientific data, fisheries management behaviour and discards reduction.

"We have selected seven vessels for the pilot and look forward to seeing the results of the trials. This project will enhance monitoring, control and observation capability and help deliver the confidence that the vast majority of our fishermens' actions are indeed responsible.

"Any discarding is a scandalous waste of a valuable and legitimate food resource and I am determined to support measures to ultimately eliminate such practices from the fishing industry both at home and abroad. Such wasteful and deliberate actions cannot be allowed to continue."

Louize Hill, Marine Policy Officer at WWF Scotland said:

"WWF has advocated the use of observers onboard fishing vessels for many years and it is therefore great to now see CCTV technology trialled on several Scottish boats. 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."

John Buchan, skipper of the Fairline PD325, 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. It will also undoubtedly deliver an unquestionable confidence in the actions of Scottish fishermen and the selective gears that they are using."

Mike Park, executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said:

"While some skippers see remote monitoring aboard vessels as a threat there are others that clearly see its merits, giving confidence to both the managers and the consumers.

"We now live in a world where confidence of source is a prominent pillar of the supply chain. The catching sector has to respond according to those requirements".

The main aim 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

There are a number of reasons why fishermen currently have to discard large amounts of marketable fish, particularly North Sea cod. One important reason is the mismatch between the quota available for North Sea cod and the increased abundance of the stock, particularly the abundance of marketable fish (ie fish above the minimum landing size).

In the North Sea 45 per cent of cod caught last year was discarded (i.e. 21.8k tonnes out of total removals of 48.7k tonnes) - according to last month's ICES advice; 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.

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