Nephrops in the Irish Sea (West), Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 19 September 2019
- Nephrops in Division 7a (Irish Sea, West), Functional unit 15
- Stock Status
Nephrops in Irish Sea West has been scored a low risk for stock status. The stock is in a safe condition because the stock size is above MSY Btrigger and the harvest rate (F) is below that of maximum sustainable yield (FMSY).
The management of the stock of Nephrops in the Irish Sea West has been identified as a low risk. The stock is assessed annually by ICES. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is set for ICES Subarea 7 as a whole, which could lead to increases in fishing effort on individual functional units of Nephrops. However, there are safeguards under the Multi Annual Plan for the management of Western Waters fisheries to avoid overexploitation of individual functional units.
Surveillance of enforceable measures outside of quota management can be considered moderately effective with adequate enforcement and compliance.
The bycatch for this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. Due to the small cod end mesh requirements of the target species the discarded bycatch consists of undersized whitefish, such as cod, haddock plaice and whiting. Recent observations (2016) in this fishery have shown overall discards by weight have been around 20% of total catch. Measures to reduce bycatch and discards of whitefish 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 largely designed to reduce bycatch of larger whitefish, have been implemented on a non-statutory basis. There is also a moderate risk to Protected, Endangered and Threatened (PET) species such as skate; these are captured by the fishery but have high survival rates when discarded. It is prohibited from landing these species, which deters targeting and the relatively high survival rate provides a measure of protection.
The habitat impact of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. Nephrops trawlers target specific habitats containing burrowing mud communities and changes in the biodiversity of these areas have been associated with trawling. The fishery is focused on a core area related to suitable substrate which remains productive for Nephrops. There is a process in place under the OSPAR convention and UK Marine Acts to avoid adverse impacts through the designation of Marine Protected Areas.