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The Director-General of DG MARE has responded to NWWAC on the issue of co-habitation and seine-net fishing activity in the Eastern Channel

The Director-General of DG MARE has responded to North Western Waters Advisory Council on the issue of seine fishing activity in the Eastern Channel (ICES Division 7d).

The NWWAC had written to the Director-General on 11 October 2021 with advice regarding specific actions to address the co-habitation of the many fishing activities in the Eastern Channel and specifically in relation to seine netting.

In their letter to the Director-General the NWWAC said:

“Whilst conflicts between fishers occur more and more frequently, the NWWAC considers that a joint sustainable management of the seine fisheries in the Eastern Channel is necessary and urgent. In order to be able to decide on efficient management measures, obtaining scientific fisheries data is essential.

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To this end, the NWWAC advises the Commission to send a request to ICES to provide an analysis of the seine fishing activity in the Eastern Channel, including information on:

– The evolution of the use of gear codes SDN, SSC, SPR, SX (catch composition and effort) since 2010, per Member State (and UK flag if possible) and total, per ICES zone;

– A comparison of LPUE/CPUE with demersal trawling activities;

– A review of the status of the main non quota species involved.

The NWWAC took note of the Channel Working Group’s consideration that it is urgent to have these data at its disposal in order to facilitate an agreement between stakeholders that enables to maintain sustainable fisheries in the Eastern Channel.”

In her response the Director-General says:

“You report on increasingly frequent conflicts among fishermen operating with diverse gears in the Eastern Channel and you state the urgent need for a joint sustainable management of seine fishing in this area, while recognising that efficient management measures should be duly based on scientific fisheries data.

“The NWWAC advises the Commission to request an analysis of the seine fishing activity in the Eastern Channel from ICES, with focus on fishing effort and catch composition by demersal seines (Danish anchor seine, Scottish seine and Scottish pair seine), comparison with demersal trawling, and status of the main non-quota species concerned. You consider that this could facilitate agreement between stakeholders.

“Avoidance of conflicts of use for space and resources between fishing gears is extremely important in fisheries of shared and common resources. I encourage the participation and commitment of the relevant stakeholders in reaching agreements for this purpose, which remains a top priority of my services. An improved understanding and further knowledge on these issues can contribute to achieving this objective.

“The fisheries you refer to concern also stocks which are not managed under TACs and quotas. Conservation of non-quota stocks (NQS) requires gathering of additional data and knowledge to underpin the most appropriate fishery management measures. NQS management is becoming a priority subject in the coming months. An Expert Working Group (EWG) is being asked to provide assessment and advice for NQS. The EWG is now scheduled in the work programme for 2022 of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).

“Additionally, in light of the sea basin and waters concerned, there is a link to the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Additional scientific work is also expected under the Specialised Committee on Fisheries, as a follow up to the annual EU-UK consultations for 2022 and will be integrated into the development of multi-annual strategies for the NQS and management of this sea basin. This scientific work will be able to provide us with the scientific data you are requesting on the seine fishing activity in the Eastern Channel.”

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