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Invisible catch: A century of bycatch and unreported removals in sea fisheries, Belgium 1929-2010
Lescrauwaet, A.-K.; Torreele, E.; Vincx, M.; Polet, H.; Mees, J. (2013). Invisible catch: A century of bycatch and unreported removals in sea fisheries, Belgium 1929-2010. Fish. Res. 147: 161-174.
In: Fisheries Research. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0165-7836; e-ISSN 1872-6763
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee: Open Marine Archive 248855 [ download pdf ]

    By catch
    Fisheries > Marine fisheries
    Historical account
    Statistics > Fishery statistics
    ANE, Belgium [Marine Regions]
Author keywords
    Catch reconstruction; IUU; EEZ; unreported catch

Authors  Top 
  • Lescrauwaet, A.-K.
  • Torreele, E.
  • Vincx, M.
  • Polet, H.
  • Mees, J.

    Publicly reported statistics on the production of fisheries refer to 'landings' as opposed to 'catch'. However, well-informed decisions and evaluation of the impacts of fisheries on ecosystems must be based on total removals, so including the part of the catch that is discarded at sea or not reported as landings. Total removals by Belgian fisheries from all ICES fishing areas and from the Belgian part of the North Sea (BNS) from 1929 to 2010, were reconstructed by including unreported and misreported landings of the commercial fleet, unreported landings by the recreational and artisanal/subsistence fisheries and by estimating discards for the most important fisheries. Total reconstructed removals were estimated at 5.2 million t or 42% higher than the 3.7 million t publicly reported over this period. Unreported landings and discards were estimated to represent respectively 3.5% (0.2 million t) and 26% (1.3 million t) of these total reconstructed removals. The reconstructed total removals on the BNS were estimated to be 55% higher than the 0.8 million t publicly reported over this period. Discards represent an average annual of 34% of the total removals on the BNS over the entire period. The results suggest that since the 2000s, approximately 50% of all Belgian removals from its EEZ are unreported landings and discards (IUU). The unreported landings and discards are increasingly taken by non-commercial, small-scale (<12 m) vessels that are not subject to reporting and not taken into consideration in planning, monitoring and enforcement. While the present paper provides a first attempt to reconstruct historical total removals for Belgium's sea fisheries, it also addresses the gaps in data and information that need to be resolved to improve the reliability of the estimates of unaccounted removals. The reconstructed time series provides a context for the wider debate about how to move to more sustainable fisheries, what the role of small-scale fisheries are, how to achieve the agreed policy targets in Belgian marine waters and in particular in the marine areas protected under the EU Habitat and Bird directives.

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