Sunday, 18 July 2021

Shout out to skippers! Please complete the Defra Celtic Sea survey.

By way of derogation from baseline measures within UK waters of the Celtic Sea Protection Zone area (7f, 7g, the part of 7h North of latitude 49° 30' North and the part of 7j North of latitude 49° 30' North and East of longitude 11° West

The government’s objectives in the Celtic Sea mixed fishery are to improve selectivity in the fishery as a whole, help enable depleted stocks such as cod and whiting to recover, and to enable the continuation of a sustainable fishery. 

Following talks with with industry, the UK developed a package of technical measures for otter trawl and bottom seine vessels in UK waters. These measures are expected to be introduced on 5 September 2021 (MMO 2020 New Fisheries Technical Measures). The changes to the technical measures in the Celtic Sea planned for September do not affect Nephrops-directed fisheries. This consultation is about a possible further set of technical measures that does affect vessels targeting Nephrops.

This consultation focusses on possible changes to technical measures relevant to vessels targeting Nephrops, also known as Norway lobster or langoustine, in UK waters in the Celtic Sea. We would like to invite your views and responses in relation to the proposed changes and we will consider these in detail in deciding whether to implement changes to existing measures and if so, what the changes should be. We anticipate that amendments to these measures will be implemented later this year.

We are working closely with Welsh Government on this, as the technical measures are relevant to both the English and Welsh zones of British Fishery limits in the Celtic Sea. We will share the responses to this consultation with them, as well as keeping Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive informed.

The following technical measures, applied to Nephrops-directed fisheries in the Celtic Sea area in UK waters, are under review*:
Vessels operating with bottom trawls or seines with catches comprising more than 5% of Nephrops shall use one of the following gear options: 

  • 300 mm square mesh panel with a cod-end of at least 80 mm mesh size; vessels below 12 meters in length over all may use a 200 mm square mesh panel; Seltra panel; 
  •  Sorting grid with a 35 mm bar spacing as referred to in Annex VI Part B to Regulation (EU) 2019/1241;
  •  100 mm cod-end with a 100 mm square mesh panel;
  • Dual cod-end with the uppermost cod-end constructed with T90 mesh of at least 90 mm and fitted with a separation panel with a maximum mesh size of 300 mm.” 

  *These measures are currently applied through legislation (retained EU regulation 2019/2239) but as of 5 September 2021 will be applied through vessel licence conditions; this follows from other changes to retained EU law to allow selectivity improvements in the Celtic Sea otter trawl and bottom seine fisheries to be applied in UK waters.

This consultation will run for 4 weeks from 16 July to 13 August 2021.