The contribution of quota to the discards problem: a case study on the complexity of common megrim Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis discarding in the northern North Sea

Paul Macdonald, Ian Cleasby, Chevonne Angus, Tara Marshall

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The common megrim Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis is a commercially important, high-value flatfish species. Fromthe early 2000s, discarding of
commonmegrimin the northernNorth Sea has been widespread. In this study,we investigated temporal variation inmegrim discarding in the
mixed demersal fishery in the northern North Sea before, and following recent quota increases. Furthermore, logistic regression models were
applied to investigate the effects of a range of explanatory factors on the probability of individual fish being discarded. Results indicate that
discardingonthe vessels sampled has declinedfromanaverage of 54%of the total commonmegrimcatch in2009 to 20%in 2012.The decrease
in total discardswas primarily a result of a decrease in the proportions of discards categorized by the crewassmall within the catches from0.39
(+0.02 s.e.) in 2009 to 0.10 (+0.01 s.e.) in 2012.Model outputs also suggest that the likelihood of a fish being discarded decreases significantly
(p , 0.001) with increasing quota. The currentmegrim total allowable catch serves only to regulate landings and does little to regulate fishing
mortality. Additionally, the proposed reform of the CFP, including the move towards a discards ban and the implementation of maximum
sustainable yield, raises a number of concerns that need to be addressed if the northern North Sea mixed demersal fishery is to be
managed sustainably and remain economically viable in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1256-1265
Number of pages10
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2014



  • common megrim
  • discards
  • highgrading
  • Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis
  • North Sea
  • quota

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