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Fishing Catches: Cetaceans

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 185848, tabled on 22 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to eliminate bycatch of (a) dolphins, (b) porpoises (c) whales and (d) other sensitive species; and if he will set out annual targets to reduce bycatch.

Answered on

29 April 2021

The UK Government funds Clean Catch UK which is a collaborative research programme dedicated to better monitoring and mitigation of sensitive marine species bycatch in UK fisheries.

We also fund a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which helps to reduce any potential fisheries impacts on sensitive marine species, including cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales).

In addition, we have recently let a ten-year contract for the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which conducts research on threats facing sensitive marine species. This research contributes to better monitoring and mitigating of such threats, including bycatch.

The Fisheries Act's ecosystems objective contains a requirement to "minimise, and where possible eliminate bycatch of sensitive marine species". We will set out policies that will help to achieve this objective in the Joint Fisheries Statement (JFS) which is a UK-wide policy document. The JFS will be published 24 months after the Fisheries Act received Royal Assent, in late 2022.