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Red gurnard in the North East Atlantic, Demersal otter trawl

fish

Chelidonichthys cuculus

Content last updated
27th Jan 2016

Stock:
Red gurnard in the North East Atlantic

Management:
EU

Overview

Red gurnard (Chelidonichthys cuculus) is a widespread demersal species on the Northeast Atlantic shelf, distributed from South Norway and north of the British Isles to Mauritania. The species is found in depths between 20 and 250m living on gravel or coarse sandy substrate.

 

Higher occurrences of red gurnard with patchy distribution have been observed along the Western approaches from the Shetlands Islands to the Celtic Seas and the Channel. A continuous distribution of fish crossing the Channel and the area West of Brittany does not suggest a separation of the Divisions VIId from VIIe and VIIh. Therefore a split of the population between the Ecoregions does not seem appropriate. Further investigations are needed to progress on stocks boundaries such as morphometric studies, tagging and genetic population studies.

 

Red gurnard feeds on a variety of small invertebrates, bottom dwelling fish and benthic shellfish and crustaceans. Length at first maturity has been reported at approximately 25cm. Spawning occurs between February and June.

 

Currently, all red gurnards in the Northeast Atlantic are treated as a single stock. Considering their behaviour, future assessment and management should identify and treat separate spawning aggregations independently.

 

Red gurnard is mainly taken as a bycatch in mixed demersal fisheries for flatfish and roundfish, as the market is limited a larger part of the gurnard catch is discarded. Gurnards have been landed as a mixed generic gurnard catch and therefore landings of red gurnard are uncertain. As well as miss‑reporting issues, some countries did not report their landings of gurnards and therefore the catches are incomplete for a number of years.

 

Other than indirect management through fleets that target a mix of fisheries and the use of marine protected areas, there is no management of this stock. However, ICES advises on the ICES approach to data-limited stocks, implying that catches in 2013 should be reduced by 20% in relation to the average catch of the last three years. Because the data for catches of red gurnard are considered highly unreliable, ICES is not in a position to quantify the result.

Stock Status

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Red gurnard in North East Atlantic has been scored as low risk. This is because the species has a low vulnerability score of 30/100 and the most recent assessment of the stock shows that the stock size has increased in most areas.

Red gurnard in North East Atlantic has been scored as low risk. This is because the species has a low vulnerability score of 30/100 and the most recent assessment of the stock shows that the stock size has increased in most areas.

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Management

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The management of red gurnard in North East Atlantic has been scored a high risk. This is because there are no management controls although a data-limited stock assessment has been carried out. There are management measures in place to control effort in the fisheries and regulations are enforced and independently verified using several surveillance measures.

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Bycatch

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The bycatch risk of this fishery is scored as high risk. This is because otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch of non-target and vulnerable species (> 30% of catch weight), including demersal elasmobranchs and protected, endangered and threatened (e.g. sharks and rays) species in certain circumstances. However, the incoming EU landings obligation is intended to reduce discarding.

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Habitat

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The habitat risk of this fishery is scored as a moderate risk. This is because, although otter trawls are considered to have a potential to cause significant habitat damage, damage to vulnerable and sensitive marine habitats is likely to be minimised given that the footprint of the fishery is within core areas, typically historically fished ground.

 

Spatial management to reduce potential interactions with vulnerable habitats are being developed, but there remains uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats and therefore some risk of further impact.

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Outlook

Current risk status Outlook Reason
Stock Low Unknown The status of the stock is improving given that the stock size indicator has increased. Catches however are unknown and there is no direct management in place to control them.
Management High Stable The management of the stock is likely to remain stable in the future. The EU Common Fisheries Policy is going through reform and there is some uncertainty on how this will impact fisheries management in this area.
Bycatch High Improving Bycatch of non-target species in this fishery is relatively high with poor selectivity. However, with technical and spatial management measures continuously under development and the incoming EU landings obligation intended to reduce discarding of target species, the bycatch risk is likely to reduce in the future.
Habitat High Improving Otter trawls disturb seabed habitats, but a range of Marine Protected Areas have been established and are under development to help minimise damage to vulnerable marine habitats.

Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason

Stock

Management

Bycatch

Habitat

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