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Discards and high-grading in the Icelandic ITQ system; A case control study of on-board vs on-land monitoring of catch Public Deposited

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  • Iceland adopted an ITQ system for all of its fisheries more than three decades ago. The system has worked well in increasing the economic performance of the fisheries and, at least seemingly, the enforcement of the TACs. The Fisheries Directorate (FD) is aware of the potential problem of discards and has from the outset done studies and monitored the level of discards. Monitoring has shown low levels of discards in most fisheries, although the level varies between species. Iceland has in place a comprehensive system to monitor discards. A group of observers alternate between on-board monitoring and on-land monitoring. An on-board observer monitors samples from the catch, the mix of species, the size of individual fish, etc. On-land observers monitor samples from landings from other trips. Data from the reports are an input into a data bank where it can potentially be analyzed in various ways, such as comparing catch between trips. All analysis shows the level of discards being low. Despite this, there have always been rumors and even video clips seemingly showing “higher levels” of discards. We provide a case-control analysis of on-board monitored catch versus on-land monitored landings of catch. Observations are paired based on all available information, such as vessel, time of year, species and degree of processing. This allows for a systematic estimation of the difference in catch composition between trips with on board observers and where no observer is on board, providing an estimate of the level discards. Results show increased frequency but not in volume.
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  • Vigo, Galicia, Spain
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