The Defra initiative ’Fishing for the Markets (2011)’ highlighted that commonly discarded fish could be used to balance the current shortage of bait in the supply chain. The undersupply issue could be solved by using discards that are not fit for human consumption as pot bait.
Michaela Archer at Seafish said: “The bait market has capacity to be a solution for the utilisation of discarded fish, but needs further investigation in terms of feasibility, storage, transportation, costs, handling and further investment on a local and national level.”
Following the initial studies carried out in ‘Fishing For the Markets’, Defra and Seafish have tasked NFFO Services to focus on delivering three key project stages by February 2014:
1. Review of the bait supply chain: to understand what is used where, and to determine logistics and commercial requirements which need to be in place to facilitate the future use of discards in bait.
2. Commercial trials: to compare discard species against standard baits already used to assess their effectiveness.
3. Reporting: once trials and reviews have been completed, a report detailing the key findings will reveal whether the use of discards as bait is a practical and cost-effective future method for managing discards that may not be sold in human consumption.
Dale Rodmell, NFFO Assistant Chief Executive said: “There is much to work out yet about how the landings obligation can be made to work, whilst avoiding unintended consequences, but utilising discards for bait does offer one possible opportunity”.
“Bait costs are soaring as the demand for bait competes with other markets for fish not for human consumption. The hope is that the availability of fresh fish bait may be an attractive alternative for pot fishermen. It may also boost catching efficiency as it is thought to be more attractive, especially to crabs.”