A notification to Defra stakeholders operating in wild-capture fisheries

Please see the below notification from Defra: 

Incidental mortality and injury (“bycatch”) in fisheries is a threat to the conservation and welfare of marine mammals including cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and seals, and the UK Government and Devolved Administrations remain committed to tackling this issue as well as ensuring that our practices align with international standards. We are therefore introducing a requirement for all wild-capture commercial fishers to report any incidental mortality and injury (bycatch) of marine mammals during fishing operations to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) within 48 hours of the end of the trip. This requirement will be incorporated into licence conditions no later than 30th November 2021. 

The data will feed into UK bycatch monitoring programmes and help identify, and where possible reduce, any potential fisheries interactions with sensitive marine species, including marine mammals. This requirement aligns with a broader programme of work to meet the Fisheries Act ecosystem objective that “incidental catches of sensitive species are minimised and, where possible, eliminated”. This is also necessary in order for the UK to continue exporting wild-capture seafood to the US from 1st January 2023 as required by the US Marine Mammal Protection Act. Information will be reported by submitting an online form. Data required as per the licence condition is limited to:

  • Vessel name
  • Vessel registration number
  • Interaction date
  • Approx. interaction time
  • Approx. location (lat/long)
  • Species of marine mammal
  • Gear type
  • Target species
  • Whether an observer is present
  • Any other information
  • Action taken (if any)

Mitigation trials have been undertaken to reduce the risk of bycatch of marine mammals in fisheries and to explore non-lethal means to deter seals from depredating fishing nets.

Further details, including reporting mechanism, to follow.