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‘Reel’ innovation: High-tech solutions to safeguard UK fish stocks

14 May 2024

The Government has unveiled plans to deploy cameras, gear sensors and GPS units, to ensure the sustainability of fishing.

The technology – known as remote electronic monitoring (REM) – involves using cameras, gear sensors and GPS units to make sure that catches are accurately recorded, and fish are not unlawfully thrown back into the sea. 

The data captured will support the fishing industry to manage stocks sustainably and give retailers and consumers greater confidence about the sustainability of our fish.

Volunteers within five priority fisheries will begin to use REM systems this summer, with their work helping to refine the UK’s monitoring objectives and ensure the technology works for fishers.

Once monitoring objectives have been finalised and the REM systems are demonstrated to be working well, REM systems will become mandatory for all vessels in those fisheries – including non-UK vessels.

The information delivered through REM will support the long-term profitability of the sector and help to build the UK’s food resilience and security.

Fisheries Minister Mark Spencer said: “By harnessing this technology, we can sustainably manage our fish stocks, to benefit the industry, future generations, and our marine environment.”

A different approach to managing discards will also be adopted in England, with changes to be made to account for catches better. 

From 2025, landings and discards will both be counted against quota allocations, and the amount of quota used to cover discards will vary and will depend on the type of vessel and gear types used.

In addition to this, discard reduction schemes will be established to identify ways to reduce unwanted catch in the first instance. Working collaboratively with regulators and the industry, the schemes will identify and resolve barriers to improved gears being used.   

Fishers will start to see both approaches implemented at the start of next year.

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