• discards;
  • Greece;
  • Mediterranean;
  • Patraikos Gulf;
  • small-scale fisheries

Abstract  Discarding practices from 110 fishing operations in a Mediterranean small-scale fishing fleet (Patraikos Gulf, western Greece) from August 2004 to July 2005 were analysed. On average, 1 kg of fish was discarded per fishing operation (10% of the catch). The reasons for discarding were: low commercial value (78% of discards), damage at sea before retrieval of the gear (5%), and bad handling on-board (17%). More than half of discards belonged to Spicara flexuosa (L.), Lepidopus caudatus (Euphrasen), Sardinella aurita Valenciennes and Merluccius merluccius (L.). The bulk of discards of each species were associated with a single fishing method (metier). A Generalized Linear Model (Delta-X – error-model) indicated that, when discards were present, significant differences existed in the discard ratio among different métier groups (groups comprising métiers with similar characteristics). Longlines and trammel nets with small mesh-sizes had the highest discard ratios. Discarding practices for the species Diplodus annularis (L.), S. aurita, Squilla mantis (L.), S. flexuosa and Scorpaena scrofa (L.) did not follow a consistent pattern (these species were either fully discarded or fully retained during a fishing operation). The decision seemed to be dependent on market demands rather than fish size. Significant correlation was found between discarded and catch weight, but the presence of many outliers indicated deviance from a case where discards are high when there is an abundant catch. The findings of the study imply that monitoring and management should be carried out preferably on the métier level. Discards could be reduced by technical measures, controlling effort regulations and by improving working conditions on-board fishing vessels.