Defra has opened a Call for Evidence on future management of Sandeels and Norway pout
The UK Marine Strategy and the Fisheries Act 2020 highlight the importance of taking an ecosystem-based approach to the management of fisheries and the wider marine environment.
Forage fish such as sandeels and Norway pout play a key role in the health of the wider marine ecosystem, acting as a food source for manay commerical fish stocks and vulnerable marine species including seabirds, cetaceans and seals. For example, there is evidence that increased fishing pressure on certain North Sea sandeel stocks is linked to a reduction of breeding success of kittiwakes.
Sandeels are highly sensitive to changing environmental conditions and the increased effects of climate change is negatively impacting on the health of the North Sea sandeel stocks. This additional pressure combined with the continued removal of sandeels through industrial fishing methods could result in further declines of threatened and vulnerable species in the wider marine environment which rely on sandeels as a food source. For 2021 the UK has not allocated sandeel or Norway pout quotas.
Despite the introduction of management measures aimed at increasing the resilience to the stocks, there is limited evidence of either the recovery of the relevant stocks or the wider ecosystem as a result of these measures. This is hindering the UK’s ability to reach Good Environmental Status of seabirds and marine food webs within the UK Marine Strategy. As a result, urgent action is required to protect stocks and the wider ecosystem from these increasing pressures.
As an independent coastal state, the UK Fisheries Administrations will consider new management measures such as fishing restrictions to provide additional resilience and protection for the North Sea sandeel and Norway pout stocks and the wider ecosystem. We want to gather further evidence to better understand the interaction between these stocks and the ecosystem, whether new measures (including restrictions on fishing these stocks) would be beneficial and if so, what the most appropriate measures would be.
We are looking for advice on the following 4 areas:
- The value of sandeels and Norway pout to the marine ecosystem
- Ecological, Economic and Social impact of the sandeel and Norway pout fisheries
- Change of management approaches for sandeel and Norway pout stocks
- Ecological, Economic and Social impact of introduction of restrictions in these fisheries
Find the link to the survey here.