Irish Hake Sustainability Workplan

This initiative is focused on the Irish Hake fishery which is an important species for the Irish fishing industry. The Irish Hake Sustainability Plan aims to ensure that the healthy status of Irish Hake is maintained and that the environmental impact of fishing for Hake is minimised. The plan aims to ensure that the fishery retains its current positive FishSource score. There are a series of state backed FIPs in Irish Fisheries and initiatives applied within these are extended to healthy fisheries, such as Hake, with the goal of protecting the stock and the current positive Fishsource scores.

Landings of Hake are valued at around €9 million to the Irish fishing fleet. According to the latest scientific advice the Hake stock in Irish waters is at historically high levels and is being fished within sustainable limits.




Hake work plan April 2020 – June 2023

Fishery: Demersal trawl and seine fishery in ICES Areas VI & VII 

Fleet: Irish registered vessels fishing for Hake with demersal trawls and seines.

A pre-assessment report under the Marine Stewardship Council Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing was conducted in August 2018 which covered the trawl fisheries for hake, monkfish and megrim together.   

The pre-assessment concluded that the status of the Hake stock was very healthy.

Hake plan progress update December 2022
Principle 1: Stock Management
The first task, to identify, in collaboration with Marine Institute scientists, the main shortcomings with the assessment, has been completed and we are currently working on Task 2. A close working relationship with the Marine Institute Fisheries Liaison Team Leader has been established. We are currently, as part of Task 2, developing a program for improving supply of industry self-sampling data which will be promoted through port workshops with skippers (once Covid restrictions ease) and through direct communications with Hake plan participants. The Marine Institute Fisheries Liaison has agreed to attend future meetings of the Hake sustainability initiative to facilitate this improved data collection. A meeting was held in December 2022 and it was agreed with the Marine Institute Fisheries Liaison that a meeting with the relevant MI scientists would be held to discuss developments with the stock and the assessment.

Principle 2: Environment
A close working relationship with the Conservation Team of the Irish Fisheries Development Board, BIM, has been established and the Conservation Team Manager attended our recent FIP meeting and made a presentation on ongoing work regarding technical conservation measures in the Irish whitefish fisheries including Haddock. Recent progress in reducing bycatch of Cod in whitefish trawl fisheries and the separation of whitefish species were described. This is a specific goal of this Action and the use of this measure will be promoted and also additional data collected on its uptake and results of its use. At an overall whitefish FIP meeting in June 2021 it was agreed that Mike Fitzpatrick, FIP administrator, Ronan Cosgrove, BIM Conservation Team Manager and Macdara O Cuaig, Marine Institute Fisheries Liaison would assess whether there are further opportunities for synergies due to working together on mutually beneficial elements of data collection and TCM implementation in order to make progress with both Principle 2 and Principle 1 elements of the FIP workplan. This action is on track.

Principle 3: Management System
The objective under P3 was to implement a traceability system in the Hake fishery. Initial progress has been made under this task with the development of Hake products in supermarkets traceable to FIPs through the use of Blockchain and QR codes during 2021.



Principle 1: Stock Management

The Hake stock in ICES Area VI and VII is part of the Northern Hake stock as assessed by ICES. The most recent ICES advice on this stock describes the stock as being at close to historically high levels and significantly above MSY levels while fishing pressure has been below FMSY since 2012.Despite the healthy stock status there are some uncertainties in the stock assessment according to ICES. 



  • To work with Marine Institute scientists to reduce uncertainty in the stock assessment and to improve the data available for management and decision making.


  • Identify, in collaboration with Marine Institute scientists, the main shortcomings with the assessment. 
  • Develop an industry data provision program to fill knowledge gaps. 

    Principle 2: Environment:


    • To improve the knowledge of non-target species bycatch in the fishery.
    • To reduce the overall environmental footprint of the fishery.


      • Identify which whitefish species are caught in Hake gears and the likely impact of TCMs on catches of these species.
      • FIP members will be encouraged to sign up for the BIM Fishing For Litter/Clean Oceans initiative.

    Principle 3: Management System


    To implement a traceability system in the Hake fishery.


    • Develop with vessels, processors and retailers, who are FIP members, a traceability program which will allow the differentiation of FIP product in the marketplace.
    • During 2020 the initial development of the traceability program will take place which will set out what data will be collected at each stage in the supply chain and pilot data collection initiatives will be established.
    • In 2021 this traceability program will provide enhanced data to allow improved outcomes under Principle 1.