Use of pingers by vessels over 12 metres to avoid Dolphin and Cetacean Bye Catch

The Marine Management Organisation is advising the fishing industry of forthcoming implementation of an EU regulation that aims to reduce cetacean by-catch.

Fishing vessels 12 metres and over in length should begin to take appropriate steps to ensure they meet their obligations under Council Regulation (EC) No 812/2004. The regulation introduces technical measures concerning the use of acoustic deterrent devices, commonly known as pingers, and bottom set gill and entangling nets in specified areas to protect cetaceans against being caught incidentally in fishing activity.

The regulation applies all year round in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) areas VIId, e, f, g, h and j to all EU vessels 12 metres or over using bottom set gill or entangling nets.

The regulation applies all year round in ICES Area IV to all EU vessels of 12 metres or over using bottom set gill or entangling nets with a mesh size of 220 mm or more. It also applies in Area IV between 1 August and 31 October for 12 metres and over vessels using nets of a maximum of 400 metres in length (of any mesh size).

The fishing industry is being advised that they should take appropriate steps to ensure they meet their obligations under the legislation by 1 July 2013. There will be a period of two calendar months following 1 July to allow masters to become fully compliant, providing they can provide suitable evidence to support this.

Letters and information packs are being sent to producer organisations, the NFFO and industry. Further guidance is available from www.marinemanagement.org.uk/fisheries/monitoring/regulations_cetaceans.htm