Discard management: A spatial multi-criteria approach
Discard management needs to draw on scientific research and advice, usually supported by specific statistical modeling analysis. A wide range of statistical analysis methods were applied to fishery data in an attempt to distinguish factors that influence the species discard composition. While such approaches are important, they are still incomplete for disaggregating the economic and spatial-temporal factors for analyzing of this process and obtain a whole view of this issue. Our study aims to fill this gap by identifying, describing, and quantifying factors that influence discards of trawl fisheries using a multivariate approach based on five complementary aspects: “economic”, “vessel characteristics”, “spatial”, “temporal” and “environmental”. In addition, a spatial multi-criteria approach were used to investigate discard hot-spot areas using ecological criteria such as vulnerability and resilience of the discarded species. Using these ecological criteria will concentrate conservation efforts on the most relevant sites minimizing discards of a variety of potentially vulnerable species. This approach was applied to a case study of a multi-species demersal bottom trawl fisheries in north Spain, Cantabrian Sea (ICES area VIIIc). Results showed how spatial and economic factors highly affect species discard composition, identifying specific spatial-temporal discard hot-spots to be preferentially avoided by fishers. Mitigation measures for future fisheries management strategies should be implemented at multiple stages of the discarding process, both in the selection of the fishing grounds and the economic valorization of the discarded species.