The interim report shows that fishers involved in the 2011 trials are discarding less than 1% of the cod and sole they catch. This is far less than the 21% average across the EU for North Sea cod and the estimated 9% of sole discarded by English and Welsh vessels in the Western Channel.
Catches of undersized fish in the trial are also low, suggesting that boats are fishing more selectively.
Vessels in the South West and the North Sea are taking part in the trials as part of the UK’s initiative to tackle the problem of discarding, where dead fish are thrown away at sea if fishermen have no quota left for a particular species. Vessels in the trials are not permitted to discard any Western Channel sole or North Sea cod, including those below the minimum size, with all catches counting against quota.
Once the quota for these stocks is used up the vessels must stop fishing for all species, whereas under current rules vessels can continue to fish but discard over-quota fish and risk over-exploitation of the stocks.