The trial was undertaken in 2014 with a single twin rigged otter trawler fishing in West Channel ICES area VIIe. The vessel was fitted with Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) with CCTV and was required to operate under a discard ban for the following species: Area VIIb-k haddock, Area VII megrim, and Area VII anglerfish. Additional quota for use in fully documented fisheries provided for under the 2014 quota regulations was allocated to the participant.
The main aims of the trial were to:
- further investigate the potential for REM to provide an independent verification of skipper’s records
- test the selectivity of different types of gear and avoidance measures for reducing juvenile and mature haddock
- test the ability of the vessel to work within a discard-free fishery for haddock, megrim and anglerfish
- enhance our understanding of the impact of working within a discard-free fishery on fishing behaviour and economics
The audit of CCTV footage found that REM was able to monitor the full fishing operation to verify that the discard prohibition was complied with. A high correlation was found between the skipper’s catch estimates and REM observer estimates for all species studied. Data confidence was good for haddock as the system had been set up to study that species.
The skipper tested a variety of gear modifications with the aim of reducing haddock catches. The most selective gear for reducing juvenile and mature haddock bycatch was a reduced cover trawl with two square mesh panels. The vessel also modified fishing behaviour to reduce haddock catch such as through reduced fishing at night. The adoption of both selectivity and changes in fishing behaviour enabled the fishing vessel to operate with the discard-free fishery for haddock, megrim and anglerfish for the full year. In particular, the measures taken led to a vast reduction in the catch of juvenile haddock. However, this vessel has greater access to haddock quota than others using ports in the Southwest.
This appears to have changed in 2015, with the vessel finding it more difficult to operate a discard-free fishery within reduced quota limits. Details of this will be given in the 2015 report.