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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fish stocks generally improving in North East Atlantic - Seafish analysis of ICES 2014 advice

Some Christmas cheer from ICES courtesy of Seafish!

presentation to industry representatives at a recent meeting of the Common Language Group meeting showed that the 2014 advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on North East Atlantic (NEA) stocks is cause for optimism.

Taken as a whole there is a generally improving situation in the ICES assessed areas. Fishing mortality levels have come down strongly, there are an increasing number of stocks now exploited at or below maximum sustainable yield (MSY), and spawning stock biomass is generally increasing. There are 27 stocks in the North East Atlantic and surrounding waters which are now managed at MSY, compared with just five in 2009, and over the same period the number of stocks with MSY assessments has increased from 35 to 46. It is estimated that 55 per cent of stocks in the NEA and surrounding waters are now within safe biological limits, up from 31 per cent in 2009.

To help understand this advice Seafish has carried out a top-line analysis of the new advice issued in the autumn on Barents Sea capelin, blue whiting, Celtic Sea Nephrops, monkfish, NEA mackerel, Norwegian spring spawning herring, Norway pout, red gurnard and red mullet. This also includes the updated advice for North Sea Dover sole, haddock, plaice and whiting. This has been added to the stock analysis already completed in June and in total covers 117 stocks.

ICES publishes new scientific advice on stock status in June and October each year. This advice is crucial in determining the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) shortly to be agreed by the European Union, and also forms the basis for fish lists and scoring systems, and ultimately in recommendations on which fish to eat or avoid meaning it can have particular relevance for consumers. There are two summaries, one covering the maincommercial species and one specifically covering pelagic species. These are regularly used by the entire fishing supply chain in the UK as well as environmental groups and Government departments with vested interests in securing long-term sustainable solutions to fishing

Both analysis summaries are available to view on the website here: