This Fishery Improvement Project is focused on Irish fisheries for whitefish species – hake, megrim, anglerfish, haddock and whiting – which are important for the Irish fishing industry.
Collectively the landings of these species are valued at around €43.3 million caught principally in four trawl and seine fisheries and a targeted gillnet fishery for hake. Total landings for all species have been relatively stable over the period 2011-2015.
Whitefish FIP work plan January-December 2019
Fishery: Demersal trawl and seine fishery in ICES Area VII
Fleet: Irish registered vessels fishing for mixed whitefish (Hake, Monkfish, Megrim, Whiting and Haddock).
2 pre-assessments under the Marine Stewardship Council Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing were conducted for the fishery in August 2018. The first pre-assessment report covered hake, monkfish and megrim together and the second report covered the trawl and seine fishery in the Celtic Sea for Whiting and Haddock. The pre-assessment reports concluded that at this stage it is not recommended to move forward with a full MSC assessment for any of the species apart from Whiting. The main issues that this conclusion was based on are failure to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) exploitation rates, data issues, the inclusion of multiple species (for Monk and Megrim) under a single assessment, high discard rates and difficulties with controlling fishing mortality in mixed fisheries.
The 2019 workplan contains tasks which cover all 5 whitefish species, but it is envisaged that over time when more specific plans are required the Whitefish FIP will be split into 2 subsections as follows:
1: Hake, Haddock, Whiting
2: Monk, Megs
P1: Stock Management
Assessment against Principle 1 is extremely complex due to the number of species included and the number of distinct or overlapping fisheries covered under this FIP. The overall objective of the whitefish FIP in 2019 is to identify how the FIP can develop goals and targets in a mixed demersal fishery.
- To improve the data available for management and decision making.
- To co-ordinate progress efforts towards MSY in whitefish fisheries.
- Identify, in collaboration with Marine Institute scientists, the main challenges to achieving MSY.
- Identify priority forums where the FIP can coordinate progress efforts towards achieving MSY in whitefish fisheries.
- Identify current initiatives that the industry is involved in to improve sustainability.
2. P2 Environment:
Again in the pre-assessment Indicator 2.3.3 was scored at 60 due to the fact information on ETP is poor.
- To improve the knowledge of impacts of different demersal fishing gears.
- To improve both the quantity and quality of ETP data.
- Collect information, in conjunction with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), on the types of whitefish gears, current Technical Conservation Measures (TCMs) and selectivity devices being used.
- Collect information on initiatives already underway to reduce benthic impacts of trawls.
- Identify which whitefish species are caught together in different gears and the likely impact of TCMs on catches of these species.
- Continue to encourage vessels to implement the ETP recording system developed by the FIP.
- Ensure the ETP data is collated on an annual basis and provided to the Marine Institute for inclusion in the stock assessment.
3. P3 Management System
To improve the understanding of the Landing Obligation
- Raise awareness and understanding of the Landing Obligation in the industry
- Monitor levels of unwanted catches