Mussel in the The Wash Regulating Order, mussel dredge
- Content last updated
- 22 February 2017
- Mussel in the The Wash Regulating Order
- Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation and Management Authority
- Stock Status
Mussel stocks in The Wash have been scored a moderate risk. The species’ vulnerability is described as moderate on sea-life base (www.sealifebase.org) and, because recruitment of young mussels is variable, population trends are highly variable between locations and years. However, stocks are managed by the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities and private operators of seabed ‘lays’ which are leased areas for on growing of seed mussels collected from elsewhere. Management is aimed at complying with the conservation objectives for European Marin Sites so measures are introduced to protect them (see Management and Habitats sections). In recent years stocks in The Wash have been low with some unexplained mortalities; currently (April 2016; Eastern IFCA pers com) the wild fishery is closed so harvesting is from leased ‘lays’ only.
The management of mussel stocks in The Wash has been scored a low risk. The Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority is empowered to use information on stock density to manage the fishery on the stock. The Wash is designated a European Marine Site, where management under the Regulating Order is used to meet the conservation objectives of the site. There is a high level of surveillance and enforcement
The bycatch risk for mussel dredging in The Wash has been assessed as low. Mussels are dredged using relatively light dredges from vessels, towed for short periods. The catch is riddled on deck and bycatch, mostly undersized mussels, is returned to the sea. Although other species live on the mussel beds there are no examples of these species being dependent on the mussel beds so the removal of the mussel beds will not have consequences for these species. Also mussels do not depend on other species in terms of food web or other ecological interactions, removal of associated species will have very little effect on the mussels Other interactions are the subject of risk assessments under conservation legislation.
The seabed effects for mussel dredging in The Wash have been scored a moderate risk. Although mussel beds are considered to be habitats of high conservation importance, there is improving understanding of the resilience of these habitats to manage them within the Regulating Order fisheries.