Previous approaches to reducing the damaging fishing practice
called "discarding" (throwing fish with no market value back into
the water) often achieved little or no success. Project 50%
used an innovative approach to dealing with this high-profile,
long-standing issue by putting collaboration at the heart of its
Funded by Defra and co-ordinated by Cefas, Project 50%, used
social scientists' skills to understand the reasons behind
resistance to adopting new gear modifications.
Social marketing experts carried out interviews with fishermen
in southwest England to clarify the issues, communicate the
potential for change, and help guide a new approach to developing
Devon beam-trawler crews agreed to try to reduce their discards
by an ambitious 50%. Working with local net-makers, the fishermen
trialled their own new net designs alongside standard trawling
configurations. The research was supported by Cefas gear
technologists and fishery liaison officers.
The side-by-side trials were a resounding success, with average
discards reductions of 52%, and the most successful boat achieving
a 69% reduction.
Interviews with the fishermen established that a new approach to
communicating results was needed. Listening to those views, we
designed four-page reports that conveyed relevant information in a
simple, easy-to-use format that:
- recognised the contribution of the fishermen
- showed schematic views of the fishing gear (standard and
adapted) and graphs of the catches achieved
- included calculations of the overall discard-reduction
- gave a breakdown of the complete catch, showing the
commercial implications of the gear changes.
Fewer discards, fuel savings and more marketable fish that
commanded a higher price in port all convinced the fishermen that
changing practices and working with scientists could deliver better
outcomes. As some fishermen said:
"It was the first time that I've known a government
organisation to work with the local fisherman and ask us how we
could help. It opened up a different kind of discussion because we
felt that our opinions were being valued."
"We've had massive savings in terms of the work
we do, it's not hard to sort the catch and there's less maintenance
of the nets needed. The [results from] the new
net was clear for us all to see."
Social marketing techniques underpinned the strong
collaborative approach between fishermen and scientists, helping
the project to achieve the three pillars of
sustainability: social, economic and environmental
outcomes.The project has since been seen as an example of "best
practice" and is being adopted in other UK fleets.
trial No. 1: MFV Korenbloem (PDF, 2,642
trial No. 2: MFV Barentzee (PDF, 395 KB)
- Sea trial
No. 3: MFV Emilia Jayne (PDF, 4,701 KB)
trial No. 4: MFV Kerrie Marie (PDF, 884 KB)
Sea trial No. 5: MFV Geeske (PDF, 854 KB)
trial No. 6: MFV Christina (PDF 1,330 KB)
trial No. 7: MFV Margaret of Ladrum (PDF, 566 KB)
trial No. 8: MFV Admiral Grenville (PDF, 566 KB)
Sea trial No. 9: MFV Lloyd Tyler (PDF, 698 KB)
- Sea trial No.
10: MFV Carlhelmar (PDF, 588 KB)
trial No. 11: MFV Kerrie Marie (PDF 486 KB)
The local fishing communities were invited to support those who
agreed to undertake sustainable fishing practices. Bright and
attractive newsletters were distributed in cafes, pubs and shops so
that local people could identify with the aims of the project,
the people behind it and how they themselves might benefit.