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Fishing Catches: Nature Conservation

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 182019, tabled on 16 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to protect dolphins, porpoises and whales in the UK from fishing gear; and whether he is planning to implement bycatch solutions to protect endangered species.

Answered on

26 April 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 bycatch of sensitive species in UK fisheries. We are taking a risk-based approach to implementing this, focussing on fisheries which experience the highest rates of bycatch in the first instance. As a known hotspot for bycatch, work is already underway in the South West of England. We are currently undertaking trials for a range of mitigation measures in different fisheries along Cornwall’s south coast and will be looking to include more fisheries in this over the next 12 months.

In addition, we also fund the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), which annually reports upon threats facing cetaceans through carrying out post-mortems on stranded animals. As of 1 April 2021, we let a new 10-year contract for this programme, which demonstrates our long-term commitment to monitoring and mitigating such threats, including bycatch.