Sole in the Southern North Sea (ICES Sub Area 4), Beam trawl
- Content last updated
- 03 May 2019
- Sole in ICES Division 4c (Southern North Sea)
- Stock Status
Very high risk
The status of the sole stock in the North Sea has been scored a low risk. The stock is in a safe condition and the fishing pressure (fishing mortality) is slightly above that associated with Maximum Sustainable Yield. Spawning stock biomass has increased since 2007 and has been above the reference point for long-term sustainability (MSY Btrigger) since 2013. Fishing mortality has decreased steadily since 1997 and is estimated to be slightly above the value giving maximum sustainable yield (FMSY) in 2017.
Stock management is assessed as 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 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.