On Fisherman’s Day WWF-Russia tells why a million tons of fish goes overboard and how to prevent it
The fishing industry, like any other, is interested in maximizing profits, which requires the production of goods with high added value. At the same time, the output of fishing enterprises is limited by their fishing quotas. For this reason, captains of fishing vessels will prefer to get rid of fish with a potentially low market value in favor of a more expensive one. First of all, juveniles will be sent overboard, followed by injured fish and low-value, unquoted species.
Often they do the same with recycled waste. In the production of frozen fish products, one third of raw fish goes overboard. In the production of fillets, up to 60% of the catch volume is recorded as waste, and in some industries, according to expert data, up to 90%. Such emissions are considered legal because, subject to certain requirements, they are part of the selected quota. And although there is nothing to complain about from a legal point of view, these emissions are identical to the others in terms of their impact on ecosystems.
WWF-Russia experts are sure: it is necessary and quite realistic to achieve 100% processing of the catch. It can occur both on board the vessel, and at the coastal enterprise. There are several ways to solve the emission problem.
For vessels engaged in trawling, it is necessary to establish a rule for weighing the total catch without prior sorting. Weighing and registration of catches should be carried out by technical means of control, ensuring the reliability of the results. Such control will prevent fishermen from throw out juvenile fish, which, as a rule, is the first to go overboard, due to its small size and low cost.
The easiest way seems to be a legislative ban on any emissions of fish waste for fishing vessels. Russia’s close neighbor in the Barents Sea region, Norway can boast about the successful implementation of such legislative initiatives.
The draft strategy for the development of the domestic fisheries complex by 2030 involves an almost threefold increase in the production of commercial aquaculture comparing to last year. The demand of this growing industry for high-quality domestic feed could be an excellent driver for reducing emissions, because what is now going overboard could be sold profitably. And as practice shows, the interest of a business in making a profit works better than any prohibitive measures.