Discards and bycatch

FAO area 18

The circumpolar Seabird Working Group of the CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) has published a report on Incidental Take of Seabirds in Commercial Fisheries in the Arctic Countries in 1998 (CAFF, 1998). The report examines the available information on incidental take of seabirds in commercial fisheries in the Arctic countries, namely USA (Alaska), Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The information presented is characterised by much uncertainty and lack of data concerning the incidental take of seabirds.

FAO area 21

The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) is actively trying to collate fisheries dependent information. This also includes discards information. Thus far it only contains data from EU Member States. Discards data for the ICES areas that cover the Arctic part of the Northeast Atlantic (I, II, Va and XIV) was downloaded from the data dissemination webpage. However, for ICES areas I, II and XIV time-series only contain data that are linked to Deep Sea species.


The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) provides input to help the European Commission implement the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Commission consults the committee on all matters relating to conservation and management of living aquatic resources. Members of the STECF are nominated by the Commission. STECF may form internal working groups, whose meetings can also be attended by invited experts (https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/). The STECF Expert Working Group on Fisheries Dependent Information (FDI) is consulted by the Commission to assess fishing effort deployed and catches by fisheries and métiers (i.e. a fishing activity which is characterised by one catching gear group and a group of target species, operating in a given area during a given season). For this, STECF gathers FDI for all EU member states. Time series are provided as far back as possible for a number of defined fishing areas. Discards statistics are available by species, regulated gear, vessel length and country.  

Source: https://datacollection.jrc.ec.europa.eu/dd/effort/tables



The ICES Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC) has collated, stored and summarized annual bycatch data reported by European member states affected by the EC Council Regulation 812/2004 (ICES, 2015). This Regulation (EC, 2014) obliges member states to monitor bycatches of cetaceans in certain fisheries, certain periods of the year and certain European waters and to report the results of the monitoring to the EC. This has resulted in the WGBYC database which stores collected data on bycatch monitoring and assessment for protected species, including mammals, birds, turtles, and rare fish. The database runs from 2006 onwards.

Using data collected during 2006-2008 in the coastal monkfish and cod gillnet fisheries active in the Norwegian coast, Bjørge et al. (2013) have statistically modelled the bycatch rate of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). It is concluded that about 6900 harbour porpoises are taken annually in these fisheries.

Fangel et al. (2015) assessed the incidental bycatch of seabirds in Norwegian coastal commercial fisheries in 2009. The purpose was, amongst others, to quantify the magnitude of seabird bycatch rates and estimate total bycatch from the entire fleet by different estimators. Overall, the total bycatch of the screened fisheries was estimated at around 11000 birds in 2009.