Plaice in the North Sea and Skagerrak (Subarea 4 and subdivision 3a.20), Beam trawls
- Content last updated
- 22 February 2019
- Plaice in the North Sea and Skagerak (Subarea 4 and subdivision 20)
- Stock Status
Very low risk
Very high risk
The status of plaice in Subarea 4 (North Sea) and Subdivision 20 (Skagerrak) has been scored a very low risk. The spawning stock has been at levels consistent with safe and optimal long term yields since 2011 and has been exploited at a rate consistent with maximum sustainable yield since 2009.
This is because spawning stock biomass is above the MSYBtrigger level (the level above which high optimal term yields are expected) and fishing mortality has been close to the FMSY reference point since 2009, which should result in optimal long term yields.
The management of this stock has been scored a moderate risk.
The stock is assessed annually by ICES, and control measures appear to have contributed to a healthy increase in stock size over the past decade. However, there is some uncertainty as to the effect of the implementation of the Landings Obligation will have on control and accounting for catches because there is a risk of continued undocumented discarding.
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.