Atlantic cod West of Scotland (ICES division VIa), Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 15 May 2019
- Cod West of Scotland (ICES division VIa),
- Stock Status
Very high risk
West of Scotland cod has been scored very high risk. This is because fishing mortality and spawning stock biomass are both outside safe biological limits. The stock has been in this codition since 1996 and is currently at extremly low levels.
The management of West of Scotland Cod has been scored a high risk. This is because, although a comprehensive regulatory framework is in place, there is no evidence that the control measures in place are able to reduce fishing mortality from the current very high value. The zero TAC and by-catch limit is restrictive and leads to high discarding of juvenile and adult cod, as well as extensive area misreporting. Although cod in Division 6a is subject to the EU cod long-term management plan (EC 1342/2008), ICES has not evaluated whether the management plan is in accordance with the precautionary approach.
The West of Scotland trawl fishery for cod has been scored as having a high risk of bycatch. This is because despite the larger mesh of TR1 trawls, demersal otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch of vulnerable species in certain circumstances. A range of measures or incentives are in place to reduce catches and hence discards of cod. These measures, where adopted, will also act to improve the selectivity for some other species taken in the same fisheries depending on size and behaviour.
The habitat risk of this fishery is scored a high risk. This is because, although otter trawls are considered to have a potential to cause significant habitat damage, a number of permanent closures are in place that reduce the footprint of this gear on the seabed. Additional Marine Protected Areas are planned.