Results from the Defra consultation on sandeel and Norway pout has found that a majority agree that both species should be protected
The results of the UK government’s consultation on sandeel and Norway pout has been published with the majority of those who took the survey agreeing that both species should be protected in UK waters.
The main themes and points raised by respondents to the call for evidence are summarised below.
Respondents acknowledged that sandeels and Norway pout have high ecological value to the entire marine ecosystem:
- they form the base of many food webs – being an important food source for predatory fish, seabirds and marine mammals
- they convert energy from primary producers into fish biomass – allowing this energy to travel up the trophic levels
Respondents also noted that sandeel and Norway pout fishing have high economic value to some EU nations, who rely on UK waters to access these fisheries, to support their fishmeal and fish oil industries. However, many respondents felt that these fisheries bring little economic value to the UK.
Many respondents believe a change in management approaches for sandeels and Norway pout is required. Opinions varied on the constitution of such management measures but broadly consisted of:
- a total closure of the UK exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to sandeel and Norway pout fishing or Total Allowable Catches (TACs) reduced to zero or near zero
- taking an ecosystem-based approach to the management of sandeels and Norway pout, incorporating ‘set-aside’ and reducing catch limits downwards
- implementation of, or ideas taken from, the Norwegian model (including in season monitoring and adaptative management and late start of the season) of sandeel stock management while keeping the fisheries open
Respondents noted that the introduction of new restrictions in these fisheries could lead to:
- positive ecological impacts by allowing these stocks to recover and support the health of the rest of the marine ecosystem
- negative economic impacts on some nations, who have previously fished in UK waters, which may therefore lead to negative impacts for the fishmeal and fish oil industries
- positive social impacts for tourism and recreational angling opportunities with the bounce back of healthy fish, seabird, and marine mammal populations
- negative social impacts for those involved in these fisheries either recreationally or industrially, through lack of employment and opportunities
The full results of the consultation can be found by clicking below: