Haddock in the Irish Sea, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 09 April 2019
- Haddock in the Irish Sea
- Stock Status
Very low risk
Irish Sea haddock has been scored as a very low risk. The spawning stock biomass at safe levels and the stock is underexploited
This is because the spawning stock biomass is well above precautionary levels (above Bpa and MSYBtrigger) and the Fishing Mortality is well below that which is required for Maximum Sustainable Yield (FMSY).
A recent benchmarking has improved the assessment of the stock which was previously categorised as data-limited.
The management of Irish Sea haddock has been scored a low risk. This is because management decisions are informed by a full analytical stock assessment and agreed catches are within the range specified by scientific advice. Haddock catches have been strongly controlled by changes to fleet activities associated with the long term cod management plan which appears to have benefited both stocks. An important issue has been the level of discarding in some fisheries on this stock. However discard rates appear to be declining with the implementation of technical measures.
The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. There is discarding of whitefish species demersal trawling for Nephrops and whitefish and this discarding can have a significant effect on these stocks. With expanding opportunities for catching cod and haddock over the coming year, it is likely that these species will be targeted with larger mesh whitefish trawls. It remains uncertain what the implications are in terms of discard levels. However, measures to reduce bycatch and discards in these fisheries have been the subject of much research over the years, resulting in technical measures which improve selectivity, which in turn have been implemented as a statutory requirement. Further measures, such as modified trawl designs, have been implemented on a non-statutory basis. The trend in discard rates for haddock is improving with overall rates of discarding reducing from 50% to 23% in recent years. There is also a moderate risk to Protected, Endangered and Threatened (PET) species; for example certain species of skate, shark and ray. These are likely to be caught by the fishery but landing of certain species such as common skate is prohibited to deter targeting and they are considered to have high survival rates.
The habitat risk of this fishery is scored as a moderate risk. Although otter trawls are considered to have the potential to cause significant adverse impacts, the risk of impact is to some extent mitigated by the fact that the ‘core’ otter trawl fisheries considered to be relatively resilient are spatially well defined and there has been a significant reduction in effort in this fishery over recent decades. There is a process of mitigation through marine spatial planning with the designation of protected areas considered at risk from trawling.