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UK fishermen have reduced the amount of fish discarded at sea following a trial of the government’s “catch quota” program, the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced on Tuesday.

The catch quota trial was introduced last year to reduce discards of North Sea cod and sole in the Western Channel. Results show that those participating in the trial have reduced discards of both stocks to 0.2 percent, compared to 38 percent for North Sea cod trawlers and 28 percent for Western Channel sole beam trawlers in 2010, according to Defra.

The scheme is being carried out on behalf of Defra by the Marine Management Organization. The trial has operated on a voluntary basis, and fishermen who join must account for everything they take out of the sea and land everything they catch, regardless of size, with CCTV used to check that they are sticking to the rules.

Participating fishermen have also drastically reduced discards of undersized fish of all species to between 0 and 3 percent of their total catch, indicating the effectiveness of selectivity methods being used by the participating fishermen, said Defra.

“Discards are a product of the broken Common Fisheries Policy, and I will continue to press the EU until we eliminate this wasteful practice,” said UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon. “I want to continue to work with industry to develop innovative solutions, such as the catch quota scheme, which reduce unwanted catches and work towards the elimination of discards. In doing so, I want to ensure the fishing industry remains viable and profitable.”

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