EU project launched to help reduce bycatch of protected and endangered Atlantic species – ERINN

Apr 14, 2024 | News

A major new European project will improve our understanding of how the bycatch of fisheries impacts protected, endangered and threatened species (PETS) in the Atlantic Ocean and develop methods for better monitoring and mitigating these impacts.

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme, Marine Beacon (Monitoring and elimination of bycatch of endangered and conserved species in the NE and high seas Atlantic region) will address gaps in current understanding of how bycatch impacts PETS and work with fisheries, policy and conservation stakeholders to develop and test innovative tools and techniques for better monitoring of important species and mitigating risks of bycatch, to ensure healthier seas and more sustainable fisheries.

Bycatch, the unintentional capture of non-target animals during fishing, is recognised as a major threat to marine species globally, particularly marine mammals, seabirds, turtles and sensitive fish species, as well as the ecosystems that rely on these creatures. Yet monitoring of these species and their interactions with fishing in such a dynamic and challenging environment has often been ineffective.

Advancements in bycatch mitigation and elimination have lagged behind the urgency of the issue, with many proposed solutions failing to adequately take into account the differing realities of diverse fisheries and lacking sufficient input from relevant industry and policy stakeholders.

In order to address the issue of biodiversity decline in our Atlantic regions and help the recovery of these ecosystems and their services, Marine Beacon brings together 21 research, technology, and fisheries partners from 9 countries to work across our regional seas to identify significant gaps in our monitoring and understanding of bycatch, and to introduce innovative knowledge and tools to better understand bycatch risk and vulnerability. By inclusively collaborating with key stakeholders in the fisheries, policy and conservation sectors, Marine Beacon will ensure that new, cutting-edge monitoring and mitigation tools are effective and feasible, providing long-term applicability and impact beyond the lifetime of the project.

The project has six key objectives:

  • Engage with key stakeholder groups to build mutual understanding on how to effectively mitigate against the bycatch of PETS.
  • Improve our knowledge of how PETS intersect with bycatch and identify how improved survey and monitoring design can fill gaps in data.
  • Evaluate the specific risk posed by fisheries bycatch to the vulnerability status of PETS.
  • Advance next generation monitoring solutions, design optimal monitoring programmes and accelerate EU monitoring programmes to better achieve EU biodiversity strategy 2030 targets for eliminating or reducing PETS bycatch.
  • Develop state of the art mitigation solutions that reduce bycatch and where possible eliminate associated mortalities.
  • Create integrated bycatch management decision support tools to help Member States’ respective management programmes achieve their objectives.


Marine Beacon was launched on 21 February, 2024 and will run for four and a half years. It is coordinated by Ireland’s Marine Institute and comprises an expert team from Belgium, Denmark, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. For more information, follow on LinkedIn and X (@MarineBEACON_EU).