The Impact of Fisheries Discards on Scavengers in the Sea

  • Jochen DepesteleEmail author
  • Jordan Feekings
  • David G. Reid
  • Robin Cook
  • Didier Gascuel
  • Raphael Girardin
  • Michael Heath
  • Pierre-Yves Hernvann
  • Telmo Morato
  • Ambre Soszynski
  • Marie Savina-Rolland


A scavenger is an animal that feeds on dead animals (carrion) that it has not killed itself. Fisheries discards are often seen as an important food source for marine scavengers so the reduction of discards due to the Landing Obligation may affect their populations. The literature on scavenging in marine ecosystems is considerable, due to its importance in the trophic ecology of many species. Although discards undoubtedly contribute to these species’ food sources, few can be seen to be solely dependent on carrion (including discards). Ecosystem models predicted that discards contributed very little to the diet of scavengers at a regional scale. A reduction in discards through the Landing Obligation may therefore affect populations for a few species in some areas, but generally this is unlikely to be the case. But it is challenging to identify how important discards might be to scavengers, as they are taxonomically diverse and vary in the role they play in scavenging interactions.


Carrion Discard consumption Food subsidies Food web models Scavengers 



Part of this work has received funding from the Horizon 2020 Programme under grant agreement DiscardLess number 633680. This support is gratefully acknowledged. TM and AS acknowledge support by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE. TM is supported by the Program Investigador FCT (IF/01194/2013/CP1199/CT0002).

Supplementary material

978-3-030-03308-8_7_MOESM1_ESM.docx (98 kb)
Table 7.A Selected experimental field studies investigating the response of scavengers to marine carrion. Study information relevant to infer scavenging traits is listed under encounter probability (e.g. arrival times at the carrion, carrion quantities and background densities) and handling tactics (e.g. feeding duration, competitive abilities) (DOCX 108 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jochen Depestele
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jordan Feekings
    • 2
  • David G. Reid
    • 3
  • Robin Cook
    • 4
  • Didier Gascuel
    • 5
  • Raphael Girardin
    • 6
  • Michael Heath
    • 4
  • Pierre-Yves Hernvann
    • 5
  • Telmo Morato
    • 7
  • Ambre Soszynski
    • 7
  • Marie Savina-Rolland
    • 8
  1. 1.Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO)OostendeBelgium
  2. 2.National Institute of Aquatic Resources, DTU Aqua, Technical University of DenmarkHirtshalsDenmark
  3. 3.Marine InstituteOranmoreIreland
  4. 4.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  5. 5.Université Bretagne Loire, Agrocampus Ouest, UMR 985 Ecology and Ecosystem HealthRennesFrance
  6. 6.Ifremer, Channel and North Sea Fisheries Research UnitBoulogne sur MerFrance
  7. 7.Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE), Institute of Marine Research (IMAR) and OKEANOS Research UnitUniversidade dos AçoresHortaPortugal
  8. 8.Ifremer, Fishery Technology and Biology LaboratoryLorientFrance

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