Research and analysis

North Sea Cod Catch Quota Trials: Final Report 2014

This report provides the results of the North Sea cod fully documented fishery scheme for 2014.

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A trial was undertaken in 2014 with 16 vessels in the North Sea. Each vessel was fitted with Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) and was required to operate under a discard ban for North Sea (Area IV) cod. Additional quota for use in fully documented fisheries provided for under the 2014 quota regulations was allocated to participants.

The main aims of the trial were to:

  • further investigate the potential of catch quota management to reduce discard levels with particular focus on how mixed fisheries will be affected

  • provide evidence and experience from the scheme in advance of the demersal landing obligation being phased in from 2016;

  • enhance our data collection to improve fisheries science and advice

  • investigate the potential for likely ‘choke’ species in North sea mixed demersal fisheries

Fishing operations were monitored for compliance with the requirement to retain and land all catches of cod by means of a 10% audit of REM data and CCTV footage. In addition, the distribution of size-grades of landed cod was analysed as a means of providing an indication of possible high-grading amongst participant and non-participant vessels.

The audit results show very low levels of discards of cod (less than 1%). This indicates that the vessels are compliant with the landing obligation, and is comparative with previous trials. Grading analysis showed a significantly higher percentage of smaller grades of cod being landed by participant vessels in comparison non-participant vessels.

Analysis was also undertaken on saithe, haddock and hake discards for two vessels chosen at random. The results showed high levels of discarding, particularly for saithe and hake. The discard data was generated from CCTV footage by converting length measurements to weight. Whilst this study does not aim to derive fleet-level discard estimates, the efficacy of using REM/CCTV as a data collection tool continues to show potential. Overall, REM has been shown to be an effective method of corrobating data reported by the fishing industry and a cost-effective tool for monitoring the landing obligation.