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Selective gear trials
The first trial of new selective gears is underway in the North Sea, as Scotland's 'land more, catch less' approach gathers momentum.
The Fraserburgh-registered Caspian, a whitefish boat, is one of five vessels taking part. Both whitefish and prawn gears will be used in the trials.
On Friday the Caspian started using equipment which prevents unwanted cod from being discarded, whilst at the same time allowing groundfish such as monkfish and megrim to be caught.
Trials scheduled for the New Year will use different equipment to release cod whilst allowing other whitefish such as haddock and whiting to be retained.
The £250,000 trial, which relies on Scottish boats and local crews, uses industry observers to monitor the trials and collect the data.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"I am extremely proud that Scotland's fleets are again leading Europe with the use of selective gears.
"We are investing a quarter of a million pounds in this initiative. Trials of a further tranche of new type of selective fishing gear for both whitefish and prawn boats are also on the horizon.
"It is vital to deliver these new tools for our fishermen so that they can land more of what they catch and stop discarding less valuable dead fish. This is just a small part of our commitment to delivering sustainable fisheries and supporting the rural communities that depend on them."
Scottish Fishermen's Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said:
"The biggest single regulatory problem facing two major Scottish sectors - those catching whitefish and prawns - is the present inability of the rules to cope with mixed fisheries without wasteful discarding of fish.
"An important element of the solution will be selective gears, letting where possible unwanted fish go. We are in the early stages of the development, but if successful these trials will make an important contribution to fisheries management. They have the full support and cooperation of the SFF."
Mike Park, executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said:
"Following the success of Conservation Credits, Scotland's fishermen now have an enthusiasm for exploring new ideas. These latest trials are part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable harvesting and long-term planning, long may it continue."