A technological revolution is needed for Europe to end the controversial practice of discarding fish, according to the EU’s fisheries commissioner.
Maria Damanaki is calling for boats to be fitted with smart nets to filter out fish which would later be discarded as too small or above quota and she wants more on-board cameras to ensure that crews cannot cheat on fishing rules.
She told BBC News that the hoped-for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy could not happen unless fishermen harnessed new technology.
Spy-in-the-wheelhouse CCTV cameras trialled in the UK are said to have cut cod discards from 38% to just 0.2%.
Fishermen on the trial are obliged to land all the cod they catch, whatever the size. They have been rewarded with increased quotas and permitted extra days at sea.
Ms Damanaki says cameras will be essential – especially for the biggest boats – if the EU adopts a policy of zero fish discards.
The other key technology is fishing net design, which Ms Damanaki says is the single most important component of fisheries reform.
At the North Sea Centre in the Danish port of Hirtshals, fishery technologists are testing new styles of nets which may answer her prayer.
Fishing crews travel here to learn about smart nets which separate catches by new designs.
One innovation is a slanting plastic grid at the centre of a trawl net. Large fish are diverted by the grid into the keep end of the net whilst young fish and shrimps pass through the slots. The grid is bendable so it can be wound up with fishing gear.
Quite a lot of new designs for new fishing nets, (Move if needed)