Fishers learn from fishers how to avoid discards | WWF

Fishers learn from fishers how to avoid discards

Posted on
24 April 2019

By Anne Rémy, WWF

Discards - unwanted fish thrown back to the sea - is still a common practice that strongly contributes to overfishing in the Mediterranean and globally. Over the last four years, WWF and partners engaged with fishers, technologists, scientists, universities, and NGOs, from the region to find and share viable and agreed solutions to discards in fisheries that use trawl gears, purse seines, dredges, traps, pots, nets and longlines.

For the first time our participatory approach brought all stakeholders together and this was key to the success of the initiative. Nowhere was this more evident than in our peer-to-peer exchange programmes where fishers shared experiences on how to use sustainable techniques in different fisheries. Fishers from Spain and Italy were invited - for example - to Viareggio (Italy) to observe how locals benefited from the use of “guarding nets”. Used in trammel net operations, this simple, affordable modification has halved the amount of discards.

Following this exchange, fishers and scientists from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece were invited to Norway, the country that banned discard 25 years ago. Norwegian fishers have long been at the forefront of innovative techniques to avoid bycatch and they have seen stocks improving thanks to the introduction of sorting grids in bottom trawls.

As a result of this effort, a series of practical solutions and recommendations were developed for discards-free fisheries that can help achieve a sustainable future for Mediterranean fisheries.