To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of bycatch on populations of (a) porpoises, (b) dolphins, (c) whales and (d) other sensitive species.
The UK government funds a comprehensive and well-respected bycatch monitoring programme which helps to protect sensitive marine species and to monitor and reduce any potential fisheries impacts on these species. The UK has an additional observer programme which collects data on fisheries catch and bycatch for scientific advice and management.
The government also funds Clean Catch UK which is a collaborative research programme dedicated to better monitoring, reducing, and, where possible, eliminating the bycatch of sensitive marine species in UK fisheries.
In addition, we also fund the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which conducts research on threats facing cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) through carrying out post-mortems on stranded animals. We are about to let a new 10-year contract for this programme, which demonstrates our long-term commitment to monitoring and mitigating such threats, including bycatch.
These programmes all contribute to the assessment of bycatch on populations of sensitive marine species.