Marine Scotland has launched a consultation in relation to the 2023 Total Allowable Catch for herring in the Firth of Clyde.
The Clyde herring stock is defined as the stock in the maritime area situated to the north-east of a line drawn between the Mull of Kintyre (55° 17,9′ N, 05° 47,8′ W), a point at position (55° 04′ N, 05° 23′ W), and Corsewall Point (55° 00,5′ N, 05° 09,4′ W).
Marine Scotland is carrying out this consultation on behalf of the UK Fisheries Administrations, to seek views on the level of the 2023 TAC, to permit the allocation of Clyde herring quota to UK fishermen.
The closing date for the consultation in 09 June 2023.
In 2022, there were increased levels of uncertainty with regards to the state of the Clyde herring stock, due to the breakdown of a survey vessel, which meant that the Q1 survey could not take place. Taking into account the best available scientific information and the views submitted through the consultation process, the TAC was set at 466 tonnes: a 20% reduction on the 2021 TAC, following the principle of a precautionary buffer. This mirrored the approach taken by ICES for some category 3-6 stocks, when the stock status is unknown, and balanced the arguments for rolling over or increasing the TAC, with the arguments for setting a 0 or de minimis TAC.
On consideration of the Marine Scotland Science report Marine Scotland says that it has been noted that:
- The herring fishery in the Clyde has declined from its peak in the 1960s, with catches typically less than 500 tonnes over the last 20 years. Excluding 180 tonnes caught in 2021, catches have remained at zero tonnes since 2014.
- Scientific surveys suggest that the herring population currently found in the Clyde is heavily dominated by young age classes (1- and 2- year old herring). These fish are below the regulation minimum landing size (20 cm) for this area.
- Clyde herring are known to be linked to other herring stocks to the west of Scotland, which are currently at low biomass levels.
- There is no evidence that herring stocks had significantly decreased since 2021, the last year for which Q1 survey data was available. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest an increase above the 2021 TAC of 583 tonnes would be appropriate. Similarly, the data do not suggest that the TAC should be reduced below the 2022 level of 466 tonnes.
- Due to the lack of available data for Clyde herring, the current control measures should remain in place. Fishers should ensure compliance with the measures specific to this fishery.
Marine Scotland states:
“Our goal is to be responsible fisheries managers, but also responsive to the evidence we have available, as well as that which may come in future.
“In 2022, the TAC level was set taking into account increased levels of uncertainty resulting from a lack of available evidence.
“The evidence now available for the stock indicates that there is no strong case for a reduction beneath the TAC level set between 2015 and 2021. In light of this evidence we propose that the TAC should be set at 583 tonnes.”