ICES advises on bycatch

ICES, global organisation for enhanced ocean sustainability, has released advice on the bycatch of cetaceans and other protected species after a request from the EU.

The bycatch of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and other protected species in fisheries is still a cause for concern.

Fixed gillnets, long lines and other methods cause creatures to become entangled in fishing gear - an undesirable byproduct of commercial fishing that can harm cetacean populations and also the food chain.

The ICES advice centres around the Data Collection Framework (DCF) and fisheries monitoring schemes, the use and effectiveness of acoustic deterrent devices (also known as pingers), and the proposal of the optimum ways for defining bycatch limits or threshold reference points potentially incorporable into the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) management targets.

Mark Tasker, Advisory Committee (ACOM) Vice-Chair and Chair of the advice drafting group, said: "Our advice really is try not to constrain – and the best way to do that is really to set some sort of a goal to reduce bycatch by X amount. So it's an objective rather than a prescription."

ICES points out that bycatch monitoring methods are at present insufficient and that further observations are needed in future. It recommends that remote electronic video recording is an economic method for future bycatch evaluation.

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