The impact of fisheries discards on scavengers in the sea

Depestele, Jochen and Feekings, Jordan and Reid, David G. and Cook, Robin and Gascuel, Didier and Girardin, Raphael and Heath, Michael and Hernvann, Pierre-Yves and Morato, Telmo and Soszynski, Ambre and Savina-Rolland, Marie; (2019) The impact of fisheries discards on scavengers in the sea. In: The European Landing Obligation. Springer, Cham, pp. 129-162. ISBN 9783030033071 (

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A scavenger is an animal that feeds on dead animals (carrion) that it has not killed itself. Fisheries discards are often seen as an important food source for marine scavengers so the reduction of discards due to the Landing Obligation may affect their populations. The literature on scavenging in marine ecosystems is considerable, due to its importance in the trophic ecology of many species. Although discards undoubtedly contribute to these species’ food sources, few can be seen to be solely dependent on carrion (including discards). Ecosystem models predicted that discards contributed very little to the diet of scavengers at a regional scale. A reduction in discards through the Landing Obligation may therefore affect populations for a few species in some areas, but generally this is unlikely to be the case. But it is challenging to identify how important discards might be to scavengers, as they are taxonomically diverse and vary in the role they play in scavenging interactions.