Over 100 participants from the seafood sector attended BIM’s seminar on the EU Commission’s Landing Obligation in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Friday, November 23rd.
The Landing Obligation aims to reduce the levels of unwanted catches, the fish species that unintentionally end up in fishermens’ nets. As the Landing Obligation requires all caught fish to be counted against quotas, including unwanted species, its introduction represents a radical change in fisheries management to encourage more selective fishing procedures.
BIM CEO Jim O’Toole said:
“The Landing Obligation represents a major paradigm shift in the history of EU fisheries management with potentially far-reaching consequences. Considerable efforts have been dedicated in recent years to understand these consequences and address the many questions surrounding the implementation of this new policy.”
Friday's seminar sought to inform attendees on the new rules and the exemptions that will apply from the 1st January 2019 when the Landing Obligation will come fully into force. It also highlighted the need for greater monitoring and recording of catches and new policy initiatives designed to ease implementation. Issues around the handling and storage of unwanted catches of small fish that have to be landed under the Landing Obligation as well as potential uses for these catches were also discussed.
The last part of the seminar showcased available technical and innovative solutions to help fishermen adapt. Two significant technical developments to addressing the challenge for fishermen will be more selective fishing gear and the avoidance of areas with high concentrations of small fish.
Speaking about BIM’s new selective fishing gear Dr Ronán Cosgrove, BIM said:
“BIM has been trialing new selective fishing gear which can reduce unwanted catches significantly in anticipation of the challenges that the Landing Obligation will bring.”
Underwater footage of BIM’s new gear ‘in action’ and models of selective gear were available to view and fishermen who have trialled this gear spoke very positively of their own experiences using it.
At the conference the Marine Institute discussed mapping of areas with high concentrations of undersized fish as well as the planned introduction of a new app for fishermen which would identify these areas. The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) discussed the exemptions that apply to the new Obligation while the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) outlined how it intends to monitor catches in 2019.
Attending the seminar were Calvin Bates and Leslie Bates.