Seafood Week (5 to 12 October) primarily campaigns for a more sustainable and responsible future for the seafood industry in the UK. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the EU is the world’s largest seafood market and in the UK alone, £5.7bn worth of seafood products are consumed annually.

One of the biggest concerns within this industry is ensuring that stocks aren’t overfished and practices remain environmentally responsible.

Established by WWF, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) states that sustainable fishing refers to the practice of leaving enough fish in the ocean for stocks to replenish, respecting the habitats of sea life and ensuring those who depend on this livelihood can maintain it.

Here are some of the most prominent sustainable fishing practices applied in the industry.

Remote electronic monitoring (REM)

The use of technology plays a vital part in observing how fishing vessels operate. This practice consists of installing CCTV cameras on fishing boats to monitor any fishy activities, collect data and ensure the best practice is being upheld. A previous WWF investigation identified that REM is more cost-effective and provides full coverage, whereas alternative monitoring methods, which include patrol vessels, dockside and landing, and aircraft patrols, often provide less than 1% coverage.

REM is also particularly effective for measuring the success of the UK government’s new independent fisheries policy, which was introduced in July this year. The ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’ policy not only outlines the UK taking full control of its waters outside the EU, but intends to improve fishing practices.

WWF fisheries programme manager Helen McLachlan said: “At the moment we simply don’t know enough about what’s happening on our fishing boats or how many fish are being taken out of our seas, and that’s putting jobs, fish stocks and the UK’s precious seas at risk. REM should be a condition for all vessels over 10 metres that fish with mobile gear in UK waters, for UK and non-UK vessels alike.”

Lead-free tackle

Lead-based fishing sinkers, a weight used with a lure or hook, are banned in the US and Canadian National Parks due to the toxicity of the metal. However, it is still commonly used within the global fishing industry due to the cost and ease of using the material. Lead jigs are frequently lost at sea and ingested by sea life, which can be fatal. There are several, safer sinker and jig alternatives that can be used when fishing, including steel, brass, tungsten and tin.

Fishing discards ban

Discards refers to the practice of returning caught fish to the sea. This usually occurs if the fish has a low or no economic value, is damaged or below the legal minimum landing size. As a result, this practice was banned two years ago. One key initiative that can be used to avoid this wasteful method is the roller ball system. Public body Seafish previously found a 17% reduction in the number of fish discarded when traditional trawl gear was replaced with roller balls. The rubber roller balls allow the net to roll across the seabed instead of being dragged.

UK fisheries minister George Eustice said in a statement: “We fought hard to achieve the discard ban through our reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy – it is one of the most important changes to fisheries management since the creation of the CFP and is crucial to making our fishing more sustainable.

“Together with careful quota management the discard ban will help us to achieve our shared ambitions of a profitable fishing industry by protecting our fish stocks for the future and safeguarding a healthy marine environment.”

Pole and line fishing

This fishing technique consists of catching species one fish at a time with a pole. The MSC states that water is sprayed from behind the fishing boat and bait is scattered onto the water’s surface. This then attracts targeted fish and sends them into a feeding frenzy, which results in them biting the hook attached to the fishing pole.

Once hooked, the fish is thrown up over the fisher and onto the deck. This practice leads to fewer instances of catching unwanted fish and is considered to be more sustainable than other methods, like purse seine, longlines and pelagic trawl.