Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 12:43 UK

CCTV bid to reduce fishing waste

Discarded fish
A monitoring programme of "discards" already operates in Denmark

Seven Scottish fishing vessels are being fitted with CCTV cameras as part of a trial to cut the amount of fish being thrown back into the sea.

The £100,000 pilot programme aims to reduce "discards" by enhancing monitoring.

Scotland's west coast area will be represented in the trial by the Oban-based vessel Aubretia.

Conservation groups backed the move and said the presence of cameras will deter bad or illegal fishing practices.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said "forward-thinking skippers" would embrace the technology.

"The true cost of discards goes far beyond the tens of millions of pounds worth of fish that is currently dumped back into our seas by boats from across Europe," he said.

"It's a waste of a precious resource on a monstrous scale. In no other industry would it be acceptable for workers to use their skills only for the fruits of their labour to be destroyed."

'Responsible fishing'

Mr Lochhead said the pilot study would form part of Scotland's future negotiations on fishing quotas.

He said the European Commission should reward the efforts of countries which promote "conservation and responsible fishing".

The pilot scheme is being backed by the conservation agency, WWF Scotland.

Its marine policy officer, Louize Hill, said: "At-sea observation of fishing practices is the only means to quantify fishery catches and discards.

"The presence of observers onboard fishing vessels deters bad or illegal fishing practices, helping create an atmosphere of trust for the fishermen working hard to reduce by-catch through the adoption of conservation measures."

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