Icelandic fishermen “throwing very little by-catch away”

There has been a significant reduction in the quantity of Icelandic-caught fish being thrown back into the sea when fish of the wrong size are accidentally caught, or when the boat does not hold a quota for a particular species which ends up in its nets.

According to Marine Research Institute figures the volume of by-catch thrown back last year was lower than any of the last ten years. Generally less than one percent of cod caught have been thrown back since 1999; but last year it was less than half-a-percent. Traditionally more haddock has been wasted; but only one percent of the total catch last year.

A part of the waste can be put down to fish being thrown overboard because they are damaged in the fishing gear as they are pulled aboard, Ví reported.

The figures for wasted by-catch have been on the way down for the last three or four years, the Marine Research Institute says.

Traditionally fish were thrown back, dead or dying, if they were of a non-target species, or if they were too small to be valuable. This practice has been banned in Iceland, however; and all fish caught should legally be brought to shore.

The increase in fishermens’ willingness to adhere to the law is largely down to money and the fact that Icelandic companies are better able to use fish than ever before. An example given is the opening of the Asian market for fish waste, including heads, tails and even guts, which are processed into food for people, instead of just going to fishmeal or fish oil production.