FAO Releases First Guidelines on Fisheries Discard

January 2011: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released the International Guidelines on Bycatch Management and Reduction of Discards, approved by a Technical Consultation held in Rome, Italy, from 6-10 December 2010.

The Technical Consultation was convened to develop International Guidelines as called for by the FAO Committee on Fisheries at its 28th session in 2009. The Guidelines cover all types of bycatch including discards, that is, fish that are caught accidentally and then thrown back into the sea either dead or dying. Bycatch may also include endangered species, juvenile fish, turtles, seabirds, dolphins, etc. Depending on the definition used, current bycatch may be in excess of 20 million tons per year. The Guidelines cover: bycatch management planning; improvement of fishing gear; fisheries closures; economic incentives to facilitate uptake of measures; monitoring, research and development; capacity building of States to follow the guidelines; and other relevant issues.

The Guidelines will now be submitted to the Committee on Fisheries for endorsement when it meets in Rome, Italy, from 31 January-4 February 2011. [FAO Press Release] [The Guidelines]