Clean Catch UK

Joint Action To Reduce Wildlife Bycatch

Clean Catch UK is a collaborative research programme that brings together scientists and fishermen, to monitor and help reduce the accidental capture of wildlife by commercial fishing vessels.

Why we are working on bycatch

The seas around the UK are thriving underwater ecosystems. These waters provide essential habitats for a number of protected, endangered and threatened species of wildlife, also known as ‘sensitive marine species’. 

Common dolphin, grey seal, and seabirds such as fulmar and cormorant are all examples of sensitive marine species, and our coasts would not be the same without these beautiful, awe-inspiring animals. Unfortunately, this wildlife can be hard for fishermen to avoid and can become entangled in fishing gear, ending up as accidental catch – or ‘bycatch’. 

Bycatch is both an animal welfare concern and a conservation concern. Globally, bycatch is one of the greatest threats to sensitive marine species, and can contribute to the decline of certain populations of wildlife. 

The accidental capture of wildlife can also be a distressing experience for fishermen who care about the seas in which they fish, and is costly and time-consuming to handle. 

Find out more about bycatch. 

The solution

One of the greatest challenges to conserving and managing sensitive marine species is that often relatively little is known about them. With a lack of information and data, it is difficult to know the full impact that accidental capture can have on wildlife. 

Clean Catch UK will help collect robust data on the life histories, movements, distributions, behaviours, accidental capture and post-release survival of wildlife in UK commercial fisheries, with an initial focus on the Celtic Sea. 

Clean Catch UK will develop solutions that work to reduce the bycatch and subsequent mortality of wildlife in UK commercial fisheries. This work is in support of Defra’s commitments to: 

Learn about the groups working to find solutions

The UK Wildlife Bycatch Mitigation Hub

Bycatch mitigation is the process of reducing accidental wildlife capture. This can be done through many different methods, such as using special acoustic devices that deter certain species, or by fishing at a time of day when sensitive species are less active. 

Clean Catch UK is now working to launch the UK’s first Bycatch Mitigation Hub. This interactive web portal will allow users to explore various mitigation techniques, for different types of commercial fishing equipment (or ‘gear’) and different species of wildlife bycatch. 

Whilst some techniques to reduce bycatch are widely used by commercial fishing vessels, many are still in trial phase and require further research. For this reason, we would like to hear from anyone who is interested in taking part in local bycatch reduction studies. This will be done whilst ‘Fishing As Usual’, meaning that studies are conducted alongside usual fishing activity.

We are also inviting people to provide data or upload new research to the hub. Contact us to find out how to contribute.

Dive Into the Hub


Please contact us if you want to contribute to a local study to reduce bycatch or provide the programme with relevant research.


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