ICES advice shows a dense mix between adult and juvenille Rockall haddock
The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) has released its advice it has given to the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) on their request on the efficacy of the Rockall haddock closure in protection of juvenile haddock.
The ICES was requested to review the efficacy of the Rockall haddock closure in protection of juvenile haddock (Rec 04:2020/xx:2021), covering both NEAFC RA and outside NEAFC RA. The original management decision to close the Rockall haddock box was to protect juvenile haddock; this decision was taken in 2001 for NEAFC RA area of statistical rectangle 42D5, and extended in 2002 to include all of 42D5. NEAFC requests ICES to provide all available new information in the evaluation of the haddock box in terms of protection of juvenile haddock in the area.
In their advice summary, the ICES says, “The Rockall Haddock Box does coincide with areas of high juvenile and adult haddock densities, with high densities also observed outside the box to the northeast. For most years since the closure, haddock densities of age classes 1+ have been higher inside than outside the box. The overall impact of the current closure area on the Rockall haddock stock continues to be difficult to assess.
In the elaboration of the advice, ICES reports, “Juveniles are considered to be individuals of less than 25 cm, which includes individuals of ages 0 and 1 and 5% of age 2.
“Analyses of survey data shows complex patterns in densities of haddock inside and outside the Haddock Box over the time-series both before and after the box’s implementation.
“There is evidence from analyses of the survey data of high interannual variability in distributions and densities of juvenile haddock over the Rockall Bank in proximity to the Haddock Box. Spatial analyses indicate that the Haddock Box coincides with areas of high juvenile and adult haddock densities, with high densities also observed outside the box to the northeast.
“Densities for all 1+ age groups have been higher inside the box than outside since the closure. There are no consistent differences in densities of the 0 age group inside or outside the box.”
Following a North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) March 2001 meeting, a moratorium for all types of fisheries except long-lines was introduced as a regulatory measure in the international waters at Rockall of ICES statistical rectangle 42D5. The EU set a similar restriction for an adjacent area in the 200 nautical mile zone of the coastal EU countries, extending the area to cover all of 42D5, with the aim of protecting juvenile haddock (EC, 2001a, 2001b) and generally known as the ‘Rockall Haddock Box’. The Rockall haddock stock has shown high variability in recruitment and stock size since the early 1990s. Recruitment has shown some recovery since an extremely low period between 2007 and 2012. Spawning-stock biomass has increased since an all-time low in 2014. Estimated fishing mortality is highly variable from year to year but shows a generally declining trend over the assessment time period. A review of the efficacy of the Haddock Box in protecting juvenile haddock has this extremely varied stock status as its background.
Since its implementation in 2001, the Haddock Box has had a higher density of haddock for all age classes except the 0 age class. When haddock are classified as “juveniles” by size, higher densities are evident inside as compared to outside of the box between 2005 and 2009 when numbers of this group declined both inside and outside the box. Size defined “adult” haddock (≥ 25 cm) have in most years had a higher density inside the box.”
Source: ICES Report