Page last updated at 09:52 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 10:52 UK

CCTV aims to reduce fish discards

Fish dumped overboard
Tonnes of fish are discarded by boats every year due to quotas

A pilot scheme which will see skippers use CCTV on their boats to help reduce fish discards at sea has been unveiled.

Seven skippers have been chosen for the £100,000 initiative.

Hundreds of tonnes of fish are thought to be dumped back in the North Sea every year - much of it because catches exceed EU fishing quotas.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said the new CCTV monitoring system for the North Sea and west coast could help combat the "scandal" of dumped fish.

Installation of the CCTV monitoring equipment is expected to take place over the next month.

A similar plan in Denmark is said to have already begun to show successful results in cutting discards.

Our industry has nothing to hide and this initiative will help prove this
John Buchan
Skipper of Fairline

Mr Lochhead said: "The scandal of dumped fish has shot up the agenda since we held our discards summit and revealed that around £40m worth of marketable fish is thrown back into the North Sea every year.

"This is a hugely exciting initiative using cutting-edge technology that can make a substantial contribution to scientific data, fisheries management behaviour and discards reduction.

"We have selected seven vessels for the pilot and look forward to seeing the results of the trials. This project will enhance monitoring, control and observation capability and help deliver the confidence that the vast majority of our fishermens' actions are indeed responsible."

He added: "Any discarding is a scandalous waste of a valuable and legitimate food resource and I am determined to support measures to ultimately eliminate such practices from the fishing industry both at home and abroad. Such wasteful and deliberate actions cannot be allowed to continue."

'Sustainable future'

Mike Park, executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said: "While some skippers see remote monitoring aboard vessels as a threat there are others that clearly see its merits, giving confidence to both the managers and the consumers."

John Buchan, skipper of the Peterhead boat Fairline - who will take part - said: "Our industry has nothing to hide and this initiative will help prove this and hopefully lead to increased quantities being available to land and not set aside as discarded quantities.

"It will also undoubtedly deliver an unquestionable confidence in the actions of Scottish fishermen and the selective gears that they are using."

Louize Hill, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland, added: "WWF has advocated the use of observers onboard fishing vessels for many years and it is therefore great to now see CCTV technology trialled on several Scottish boats.

"This is yet another tool in the box of measures being taken by the Scottish fleet to move the industry towards a sustainable future."

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