Caring about the future

LESSisMORE - LESS discards and LESS fishing effort for BETTER efficiency on the small-scale fisheries
CESAM Responsible researcher - Cristina B. Pita
Programme - Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (02/SAICT/2017)
Execution dates - 2018-09-01 - 2022-06-30 (46 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia; FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional
Funding for CESAM - 52375 €
Total Funding - 239882 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Lisboa
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro

Project Description

Small scale fisheries (SSF) are a large component of the EU fleet (80% of the fleet, accounting for about 27% of the revenue generated by EU fisheries and more than 40% of EU fishers). In Portugal, SSF hold great tradition and social, economic and cultural importance (in 2015, employing nearly 12,500 people distributed over 6,216 vessels, and landing 50,759 t, corresponding to 143.17 M€ in revenue). Fishing gears should be size- and species-selective and a well-managed fishery is expected to use gear that will catch most of the available species at sizes that will not undermine the sustainability of the fishery. Understanding the type of gears used and the factors that influence their use is also vital to determine the interaction between social and ecological change. Two processes are identified as the fundamental causes of high discarding: the use of unselective fishing techniques, leading to high discard rates, and the failure to restrict fishing effort, leading to high volumes of discards. Estimating discards is essential for assessing the full impact of fisheries upon fish populations and upon the ecosystem in which they operate. In European waters, discards are very significant – around 19% of global discards occur in FAO's 27 area, which includes much of the EU's EEZ – and this was identified as one of the main shortcomings of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In order to improve the issue of discards, the reform of the EU CFP implemented the landing obligation for all fisheries catching commercial species managed by the CFP regulation, which means that SSF are also subjected to the landing obligation. Data collection on discards of commercial fisheries in EU waters is scarce and the estimates of the amounts discarded have, in general, low precision – this means that discards’ sampling is low and there is a high variability on the amounts of discarded fish. For this reason, discards represent, in the EU, an important and poorly documented source of fishing mortality, contributing to the overfishing of European fish stocks. Despite the high socioeconomic importance of SSF, the majority of the scientific research on discards, in the EU, has been focused on large-scale fisheries, assuming that SSF's discards are lower than those associated with industrial fishing. As a result, there is a lack of knowledge on many biological, environmental, socioeconomic, management and policy aspects of SSF, mainly with respect to discards. To fill the existing gaps in the knowledge about SSF, the main objectives of this study are: 1. To quantify discards and fishing effort; 2. To build predictive models to identify the best conditions for fishing, with low fishing effort and low discards; 3. To assess the socioeconomic impact of the decrease in fishing effort, discards and the implementation of the landing obligation; 4. To increase the value of discarded species.

Project webpage

CESAM members on this project
Cristina B. Pita



CESAM Funding: UIDP/50017/2020 + UIDB/50017/2020 + LA/P/0094/2020


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