Sunday, 12 November 2017

The “Smalls” Nephrops Grounds Survey Report

This report provides the main results and findings of the twelfth annual underwater television survey on the ‘Smalls grounds’ ICES assessment area; Functional Unit 22. The survey was multi-disciplinary in nature collecting UWTV, CTD and other ecosystem data. A total of 40 UWTV stations were surveyed successfully (good quality video footage) carried out over an isometric grid at 4.5nmi or 8.3km intervals. 

The prawn (Nephrops norvegicus) are common in the Celtic Sea occurring in geographically distinct sandy/muddy areas where the sediment is suitable for them to construct their burrows (Figure 1). The Nephrops fishery in ICES sub-area 7 is extremely valuable with landings in 2016 worth around € 107 m at first sale. The Celtic Sea area (Functional Units 19-22 see Figure 1) supports a large multi-national targeted Nephrops fishery mainly using otter trawls and yielding landings in the region of ~5,000 t annually over the last decade (ICES, 2017). The 2016 reported landings from the Smalls (~3276 t) were estimated to be worth in the region of €18.2 million at first sale. The Smalls ground is particularly important to the Irish demersal fleet accounting for around 13% of the fishing effort by all demersal vessels >15m between 2006 - 2009 (Gerritsen, et al., 2012). The Irish demersal fleet now account for over 90% of the FU22 Nephrops landings (ICES, 2017). Good scientific information on stock status and exploitation rates are required to inform sustainable management of this resource. 

The 2017 Celtic Sea survey took place on RV Celtic Voyager between the 9th August to 17th August. The survey normally takes place in either July or August each year.