Regulation 812/2004 laying down measures concerning incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries and amending Regulation (EC) No 88/98.


This regulation, which concerns the incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries, came into force on 26th April 2004. The measures pertinent to the UK include:

  • the coordinated monitoring of cetacean bycatch through compulsory onboard observers for given fisheries
  • the mandatory use of acoustic deterrent devices (‘pingers’) in certain fisheries


EC Regulation 812/2004 requires that sampling should be geared to achieve a bycatch estimate with a coefficient of variation (CV) of less than 0.3. This can only be achieved if there is one or more observed bycatch event. In the absence of any observed bycatch, and assuming continued monitoring is needed, the UK uses the ‘pilot study’ levels of 10% and 5% for the various fishery segments as the most appropriate approach to setting monitoring requirement levels. The European Commission has recognised the UK scheme as one of the best bycatch observer schemes in Europe.


The two main species affected by fishing in UK waters are the harbour porpoise and the short-beaked common dolphin. Since Regulation 812/2004 came into force, for four years running (2005-2008 inclusive) there have been no observations of cetacean bycatch in any of the fleet segments listed for compulsory monitoring. This is not to suggest that UK fisheries do not have a bycatch of any cetaceans, but rather that the segments being statutorily observed under the regulation have very low bycatch rates and are thus unlikely to be at a level that are a conservation threat. This finding has been echoed by other Member States, and lead to a review of the fleets that are currently being sampled. This review recommended that future coverage should include tanglenet, setnet and gillnet fisheries deployed from vessels <15m as well as demersal trawl fisheries. The European Commission have yet to make a decision on the review recommendations.


JNCC participates through involvement on the UK Bycatch Monitoring Programme Steering group at the UK level while at the international level JNCC experts have been involved in European Commission groups and the ICES Study Group for Bycatch of Protected Species.



March 2010