Discarding practices for commercial gadoids in the North Sea

Stratoudakis, Yorgos and Fryer, Robert J. and Cook, Robin M. (1998) Discarding practices for commercial gadoids in the North Sea. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 55 (7). pp. 1632-1644. ISSN 0706-652X

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Abstract

Understanding fishers' discarding behaviour, and anticipating their reactions to changes in the biological or regulatory characteristics of a fishery, are important for dealing with the problem of discarding. In this paper, we investigate the discarding of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), whiting (Merlangius merlangus), and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the North Sea, using data collected by scientific observers onboard Scottish demersal vessels. We describe discarding on each trip by species-specific discard curves and explore how these curves depend on biological and regulatory variables. There are large differences in the size of discarded fish between inshore and offshore areas, with offshore-operating vessels discarding larger fish (high-grading). Increases in legal landing size correspond to immediate increases in the size of discarded fish, particularly for haddock and cod in inshore areas. In general, discarding practices for haddock and cod are similar over time and consistent across gears, whereas decisions for the lesser valued whiting are more variable and can be affected by the catch composition.