Along with other protective initiatives such as the opening and closure of fishing areas, work in this field is of key importance for greater protection of threatened species, young fish and small fish.
The approach of using more selective gear has two aspects. One is to prevent the catching inclusion of fish which are smaller than the minimum permitted size (small fish and young fish), and the other is to avoid the catching of other species than the target species. Non- target species are often called bycatches. Since the early 1990s the development and use of selective gear has focus on in several fisheries in waters under Norwegian jurisdiction, as well as in the waters of other countries and in international waters.
In order to limit the catch of fish under the minimum size, legislation was introduced at the end of the 1990s requiring the use of a sorting grid when fishing with large-mesh trawls in an area north and east of a line drawn in the Barents Sea. This requirement was subsequently extended to cover all fishing with largemesh trawls north of 62°N in the Norwegian economic zone, in the fishery protection zone around Svalbard, and in Svalbard’s territorial waters and internal waters. The use of a square mesh codend is also required for fishing with a Danish seine in an area north and east of a line drawn in the Barents Sea.
A part of the process of limiting the by-catch of other species than the target species, for the first time a sorting grid was required to be used when trawling for shrimp. The requirement was introduced by Norway and Russia within the respective areas where they have fishery jurisdiction. In Norway, the requirement currently applies in the Norwegian economic zone north of 62°N, in the fishery protection zone around Svalbard, in Svalbard’s territorial waters and internal waters, and in the fishery zone around Jan Mayen.
Sorting grid systems have subsequently been developed and introduced, for instance in connection with pelagic trawling for Norwegian spring spawning herring, with the aim of eliminating unwanted bycatches.
The Directorate of Fisheries lays a key role in the work of developing and introducing more selective fishing gear. In so doing, the directorate works closely with the fishing gear producing industry and a number of research institutions both in Norway and internationally. In the coming years the directorate will continue to develop more selective fishing gear. The directorate will also continue its activities aimed at identifying the actual catch composition during fishing operations for the different species. This is part of the ongoing work of getting more accurate figures for unregistered fish mortality.
For further information, please contact the Development Section in Directorate of Fisheries on telephone +47 03495.