Plaice in the Eastern English Channel, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 31 May 2018
- Plaice in Division 7d (Eastern English Channel)
- Stock Status
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 in this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch (> 40% of catch weight). However, the cod recovery plan has been implemented in this area and this is expected to have had an influence on the discarding levels in North Sea demersal fisheries and the incoming EU landings obligation is also intended to reduce discarding. There are also catches of demersal elasmobranchs and protected, endangered and threatened (e.g. sharks and rays) species in certain circumstances.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a high-moderate risk. This is because, although otter trawls are considered to have a potential to cause significant habitat damage, damage to vulnerable and sensitive marine habitats is likely to be minimised given that the footprint of the fishery is within core areas, typically historically fished ground. Spatial management to reduce potential interactions with vulnerable habitats are being developed, as there remains uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats so these remain at risk.