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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hake dilemma in the North Sea

Another example of how the discards ban spells real trouble for a mixed fishery! - further explained in this paper on 'choke' species which is what hake will fast become.

DEEP-sea trawlermen have voiced concern that the increasing numbers of North Sea hake could threaten their livelihoods.

The danger, they say, is that the population explosion of the fish will monopolise catches and thus preclude the fishing of other important and lucrative species.

The problem lies in EU rules, which disallow trawlermen to discard fish for which they do not have a quota. Not only is the hake quota limited but because hake are now so abundant, trawlers cannot help but get them along with other species.

According to research carried out by the school of biological sciences at Aberdeen University, the issue will be heightened in the summer, when the North Sea has 34 per cent of the European hake stock but only 7 per cent of the total allowable catch (TAC).

In a paper published in Fish and Fisheries, Alan Baudron from Aberdeen University warns that ‘if the increased levels of northern hake biomass...persist, European hake is likely to be the choke species which affects a premature closure of the entire demersal mixed-fishery in the North Sea.’

The concern has been echoed by Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), who also fears that the discards ban may well signal the end of the Scottish fleet as we know it.

Revisions to the Common Fisheries Policy will mean that fishermen will have to land all fish caught, an attempt to prevent the present extensive discarding of fish: estimated at around 500,000 tonnes a year.

Story courtesy of FishUpdate