Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

by Dr Ronan Cosgrove, Fisheries Conservation Manager, BIM

BIM recently produced an updated guide on technical solutions to reduce unwanted catches. Developed in collaboration with the Irish Fishing Industry, the document summarises the results of gear trials and survivability studies which assist with the landing obligation and boost fisheries sustainability by decreasing juvenile, over-quota and non-target catches in demersal trawl fisheries.

The landing obligation is primarily implemented through discard plans which specify detailed requirements for demersal fisheries in North-Western waters. These include survivability and de minimis exemptions which permit some continued discarding, and gear measures that aim to avoid unwanted catches during fishing. New gear measures are also implemented through other legislation, such as remedial measures under the annual EU Regulation on fishing opportunities.

The raised fishing line is one such measure. Vessels whose catches consist of at least 20% haddock will be required to use this gear in the Celtic Sea from the 1st June. Tested and developed in Ireland through a series of gear trials and a flume tank workshop, the gear substantially reduces cod catches resulting in avoidance of an area closure under remedial measures for cod in the Celtic Sea.

Other updates include an assessment of a 120 mm codend in the Celtic Sea leading to its inclusion in the 2020 discard plan, and sole and plaice survivability studies which will be used to apply for exemptions for these species.

The BIM Fisheries Conservation team consists of myself, Daragh Browne, Matthew McHugh and Martin Oliver. We have a busy year ahead on new gear trials and studies to deal with changing regulatory requirements. We can always find time, however, to lend a hand to vessels and crews interested in testing, tailoring and embedding appropriate gear modifications into their fisheries operations. Contact us at geartrials@bim.ie or 091 564318 for further information.

The new guide and detailed studies on reducing unwanted catches are available at www.bim.ie/our-publications/fisheries