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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th May 2020.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Conservative, East Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to encourage fishermen to use fishing methods that are (a) dolphin and (b) turtle friendly when fishing for tuna; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK is a leading global voice in ensuring appropriate management and protection is in place for vulnerable marine species globally. We recognise that bycatch in fisheries is one of the most significant threats to many marine species. The UK continues to press for the establishment of strong bycatch measures of vulnerable species within international Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

RFMOs that manage tuna fisheries have already adopted several conservation measures aimed at minimising the risk of dolphin and turtle bycatch. These measures include for example compulsory reporting of bycatch and safe handling practices, such as the disentangling and releasing of turtles, the use of line cutters and the use of dehooking devices for turtles. It is also prohibited within the Indian Ocean Tuna Convention (IOTC) waters to set a purse seine net around a cetacean if the animal is sighted prior to the setting of the net.

The UK will shortly become a member of RFMOs in its own right. This will provide us with an enhanced opportunity to press for stronger and more effective bycatch measures for vulnerable species to be adopted at an international level. We will work with stakeholders, international partners and international organisations to consider the effectiveness of measures in place and further measures we should support to provide for effective protection of these iconic species.

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