A new paper published examines how the opinions of the Irish fishers align with management advice on the landing obligation
A new paper has been published examining how opinions of the Irish fishing industry align with management advice.
Some of the highlights of the paper includes:
- Voluntary uptake of recommendations to improve selectivity in fisheries is often poor or slow.
- Understanding fishers’ opinions can provide insight into how best to further encourage improvements in selectivity.
- Simple gear modifications such as increased mesh sizes were deemed effective in reducing unwanted catches by industry.
- A combination of technical and tactical measures are needed to effectively reduce unwanted catches.
- Industry input is necessary to ensure successful development and implementation of such measures.
The introduction of the Landing Obligation in Europe has increased the need for fishers to adopt more selective fishing practices, to avoid unwanted catches that would previously have been legally discarded.
Modelling, experiments and trials have been conducted by scientists, often in collaboration with industry, to determine how gear modifications, changes in fishing tactics, and alterations to spatio-temporal exploitation patterns can assist in reducing unwanted catches. Yet voluntary uptake of resultant recommendations is often poor or slow.
During semi-structured interviews with fishers and industry representatives from the Irish demersal fishing industry we discussed their views with regard to the effectiveness of such measures in reducing unwanted catches.
Opinions varied between respondents. There was broad agreement that larger mesh sizes are vital for reducing discards, which aligns with current management advice.
Other selectivity devices were viewed less favourably due to the difficulties associated with correctly setting up and maintaining gear to ensure effective operation. The benefits of spatio-temporal solutions were recognised despite a lack of formal management advice with regards to such measures.
The report finds a lack of trust between fishers, as well as fear of providing additional information to authorities which could be used against them, led to a guarded response for resources such as more formal information sharing schemes.
While the results indicate individuals have their own tactics and preferences to reduce unwanted catches, understanding broad industry perspectives towards technical and tactical measures to reduce discards is important if scientists and policy makers are to best support industry to increase selectivity.
The full results of the paper can be read here.