Plaice in the Eastern English Channel, Beam trawl
- Content last updated
- 31 May 2018
- Plaice in Division 7d (Eastern English Channel)
- Stock Status
Very high risk
The status of the plaice stock in Division 7d (Eastern English Channel) has been scored a low risk. This is because spawning stock biomass has continued to increase above the trigger level (MSY Btrigger; below this level management action would be required) since 2011 and fishing mortality has remained below the optimal target rate associated with Maximum Sustaianable Yield (FMSY) since 2009. Consequently, the stock is harvested sustainably at full reproductive capacity.
The management of plaice in Division 7d (Eastern English Channel) has been scored a moderate risk. Management decisions are informed by an annual stock assessment, catches of plaice have closely followed the agreed Total Allowable Catches (TAC) over the last 5 years, and a comprehensive regulatory framework has been put in place. Management controls are derived from an analytical stock assessment, known to be precautionary and within the range specified by scientific advice. However, there is a mismatch the assessment areas which constitute ICES Divisions 7d and 7e and the TAC area which consists of ICES Division 7d and e combined (Eastern and Western Channel). Although this has introduced some uncertainty into the assessment and control of catches, the controls have been effective in maintaining spawning stock biomass and fishing mortality above and below the value giving Maximum Sustainable Yield, respectively. Stock trends are similar in the Western English Channel ICES Division 7e stock, however there are concerns that the combined TAC may not control catches in the Division 7e stock (see Plaice in 7e profiles).
The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a very high risk. This is because beam trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch (> 50% of catch weight) including demersal elasmobranchs and occasionally protected, endangered and threatened (PET) species (e.g. sharks and rays) in certain circumstances. Absolute levels of discards across all fleets have gradually decreased since 2002 (Catchpole et al., 2011) and the incoming EU landings obligation is intended to reduce discarding further.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because beam trawls interact with the seabed, potentially modifying bottom topography including damage and removal of some biogenic features and interacting with vulnerable marine habitats and benthic communities. However, the risk due to damage to vulnerable marine habitats is likely to be reduced given that most of the footprint of the gear occurs on core fishing grounds. Some spatial management is in place and is continually being developed, which will restrict the footprint of this gear on the seabed. However, there remains some uncertainty about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats so these remain at risk.