Seafish says fishermen at the centre of conservtion –

Seafish says fishermen at the centre of conservtion Published:  04 December, 2009

SEAFISH, the authority on seafood in the UK, has said that the dramatic results on reducing discards announced yesterday, puts fishermen back at the heart of conservation measures.

Seafish was commenting on trials between scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas) and volunteers from the Devon beam trawler fleet and has led to skippers reducing the amount of juvenile fish discarded overboard by 57 per cent. The success was achieved, using modified nets as part of a revolutionary approach that uses a deep understanding of the behaviour and attitudes of fishermen.

Seafish welcomed what it described as an the outstanding reduction in discards. Before the trials, the Devon beam trawl fleet had one of the highest discard rates of English and Welsh fisheries.

Tom Rossiter, research and development manager at Seafish, said: ‘The fishermen on the project should be commended for their vision. The results clearly show that an approach which puts fishermen at the centre of the conservation process will achieve more than the centralised system in place. We must all learn from the valuable lessons following Project 50%.’

The full results of the trials were launched in Exeter yesterday by Michael Caines, the Devon-based celebrity chef who said he was proud of what the fishermen had achieved.

In a further development to make positive changes towards sustainable fishing practice, South West producer organisations and trawler owners have also announced today that they are working towards Marine Stewardship Council accreditation, for its key fisheries.