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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL14098, tabled on 10 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of fisheries bycatch on the welfare of (1) porpoises, (2) dolphins, (3) whales, (4) seabirds, and (5) other species sensitive to the effects of bycatch; and what steps they are taking to prevent any negative effects caused by such bycatch.

Answered on

24 March 2021

The UK Government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which helps to protect sensitive marine species and to monitor and reduce any potential fisheries impacts on these species. The UK has an additional observer programme which collects data on fisheries catch and bycatch for scientific advice and management.

The Government also funds Clean Catch UK which is a collaborative research programme dedicated to better monitoring, reducing, and, where possible, eliminating the bycatch of sensitive marine species in UK fisheries.

In addition, we also fund the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which conducts research on threats facing cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) through carrying out post-mortems on stranded animals. We are about to let a new 10-year contract for this programme, which demonstrates our long-term commitment to monitoring and mitigating such threats, including bycatch.

These programmes all contribute to the assessment of bycatch on populations and associated welfare implications of sensitive marine species.