Last opportunity for fishers to contribute to whelk research
The WMG is gathering information from whelk fishermen around the UK about local variations in the whelks they catch. By drawing on their first-hand knowledge and experience the WMG hopes to help target scientific research on whelks in the future. This means that key populations could be identified to be surveyed and local variation in stocks would be taken into account.
To gather information the WMG launched an online survey in June 2021. They invited all UK fishers to provide information on their local whelk fishery. The survey gathers information on the size, shape, and unique features of whelks that fishers catch. It also captures information on seasonality and the types of sea areas in which whelks are normally found.
The questionnaire is available online and takes only 15 minutes to complete on a mobile phone or computer. It will close on Friday 3 September.
The WMG is keen to hear from whelk fishers across the country. They are particularly seeking responses from the west coast of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, where the response rate has been lower so far.
What has the research revealed so far?
Many whelk fishers around the country have already completed the survey, providing valuable knowledge on their local whelk stocks.
Responses so far have given a valuable insight into:
- local variations in whelk stocks,
- preferred seabed types, and
- times of the year when whelk egg masses are most common.
More than three quarters of fishers responding to the survey said they could tell if whelks came from a particular area by their appearance alone. This is important because local variations may be an important indicator of different whelk stocks which should be managed in different ways.
All information submitted by fishers is treated as strictly confidential and only aggregated data will be published by the group. This means that exact fishing areas or fishing grounds will not be revealed.
What is the Whelk Management Group?
The WMG brings together whelk fishers, processors, merchants, government and the research community to focus on long-term sustainability of this important fishery. A key priority for the WMG is to better understand whelk stock boundaries and how this influences fisheries management.
The online survey was developed on behalf of the WMG by Heriot-Watt University, Bangor University, and Cefas. It represents an important first step in improving understanding of whelk stocks around the coast.
For more information about the survey contact Hannah Fennell at Heriot-Watt University at HF4@hw.ac.uk.