North Sea autumn spawning herring; North Sea, Skagerrak and Eastern English Channel (Subarea 4 and Divisions 3a and 7d), Pelagic otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 19 February 2019
- Herring in Subarea 4 and Divisions 3a and 7d (North Sea autumn spawners)
- Stock Status
Very low risk
Very low risk
North Sea Autumn spawning herring in subareas 4, 7d and 3a has been scored a low risk. This is because the stock is currently at a safe level and under exploited. However, the stock is predicted to decrease in the medium term.
Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) fluctuated between 1.5 and 2.6 million tonnes between 1998 and 2017, and in all years it was above the spawning stock biomass action level (MSY Btrigger). Fishing mortality (F) has been below FMSY since 1996. Even though the size of the stock has been large, the recruitment of young fish (R) has been relatively low since 2002, with the two lowest year classes falling within the recent four of the last 30 years. This means that the spawning stock biomass predicted to decrease to below MSYBtrigger, the level below which action should be taken to conserve the stock, in the medium term.
The advised TAC for 2019 has been reduced to take account of this prediction, and to take account of the overlap with the overlapping West Baltic Spring Spawning herring stock for which the advice is a zero TAC in 2019.
The management of North Sea Autumn spawning herring in subareas 4, 7d and 3a has been scored a very low risk. The stock management is underpinned by a stock assessment that uses both fishery dependent and independent data and there are no serious issues with unnacounted catches.
The headline advice for Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is based on the ICES MSY approach, but the agreed TAC for 2019, a reduction of 35.9% on 2018, is higher than this advice. However short term (two year) predictions indicate that the stock will remain inside safe biological limits. The management of this stock is under an agreement between the EU and Norway and these parties have agreed to meet during 2019 to consult on the management of herring stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, including TAC setting.
The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a moderate risk. This is because midwater trawls have the potential to capture moderate levels of bycatch as well as occasional catches of threatened mega fauna species. Recent advances in technology on modern vessels allow the precise targeting of herring shoals, thereby reducing bycatch.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a very low risk. Although midwater trawls make occasional contact with the seabed, spatial management is in place and effort is made to avoid the seabed as contact may damage the gear.