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CCTV Used on Fishing Boats to Stop Discarding

CCTV Used on Fishing Boats to Stop Discarding

cctv-honeyburn-lane.jpgCan having an effective and efficient CCTV security surveillance system really improve business? This latest story proves it can.

Fishing is a prime business in many coastal cities and countries, like England. However, there has been a recent problem in the fishing business with fishermen who dump a good catch so as not to pay the fine for bringing in too many fish. They might as well be throwing small bundles of money over the side of the boat.

Placing CCTV cameras on a boat is a fairly uncommon practice, but Fred Normandale, who part-owns the Scarborough-based fishing trawler the Emulator, recognizes it as an opportunity to monitor the actions of his fishermen while at sea.

“We’re prepared to take cameras to prove to the scientists and the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls of this country that we are not criminals and we want to preserve cod as much as anyone else does.”

On average, you can expect a fishing trawler to throw back up to 38 percent of the fish they catch, depending on the species. For some species, the throwback can be as high as 90 percent.

The reason this happens is because there is regulation that limits how many pounds of fish a fishing trawler can bring in of a certain species. Any more than that, and the fishing trawler will be fined. Therefore, many fisherman have to get around this by throwing away large numbers of their catch.

The people who are hit hardest by this problem are the boats fishing for cod in the North Sea as well as the boats fishing for sole in the English Channel.

It requires fishermen to land all the fish they catch. If they have caught undersized fish, they are unable to sell them, and if they meet their quota allocation, they have to stop fishing. In return for those conditions, fishermen are given more fishing quota than equivalent boats.

Compliance is tested by four CCTV cameras fitted to the boats. One monitors the catch coming over the side, others watch which fish are kept and which are discarded.

The video, along with GPS data on exactly where the boat is fishing, is then stored on a black box which is sent to the Marine Management Organisation’s monitoring centre back in Scarborough.

“It’s not so much an intrusion as an incentive,” said Grant Course, the trial manager with the MMO. “This encourages fishermen to be responsible for his own resource.”

According to the MMO boats in the trial take more effort to avoid catching undersize fish which have no value at market, but under the conditions of the trial they are forced to land.

Banning discards is high on the list of reforms being negotiated today by the EU.

UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said the British government, with the support of Denmark which is chairing the fisheries council, wants to see a ban in place by 2014. “This is a once in a decade opportunity to get this right,” said Benyon.

But even if the minister can make discards ban work in British waters, it will not work unless it is adopted Europe-wide. The proposal will face tough opposition from France and some Mediterranean states who benefit most from the CFP in its current form.

“What we have to do is get it back to local management instead of thinking that we can manage mesh-sizes from Brussels. That’s been the absurdity and at last we’re seeing a change in direction.

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AUTHOR - Michael Peros

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