ICES Sole Quota 2021

The ICES has released their quota advice for Sole quotas for 2021

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) has released its 2021 recommendations for Sole quota for the Irish Sea, western English Channel, west of Ireland, Bristol Channel/Celtic Sea and the Celtic Sea South/southwest of Ireland.

The ICES has advised that when the Minimum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach is applied, catches in 2021 should be no more than 768 tonnes for the Irish Sea. The catch advice for 2021 has increased compared to the advice for 2020 due to a further increase in stock size, with the spawning-stock biomass (SSB) now slightly above MSY Btrigger. 

This year, 2020, the ICES had proposed a total allowable catch (TAC) of no more than 561 tonnes but eventually the TAC was set at 457 tonnes.

In the western English Channel, the ICES has advised that when the EU multiannual plan (MAP) for Western Waters and adjacent waters is applied, catches in 2021 that correspond to the F ranges in the plan are between 1,141 tonnes and 2197 tonnes. According to the MAP, catches higher than those corresponding to FMSY (1,925 tonnes) can only be taken under conditions specified in the MAP, whilst the entire range is considered precautionary when applying the ICES advice rule.

This year’s advice has increased compared to last year’s advice because of an upward revision in recent recruitment, leading to an increase in SSB.

For 2020, the TAC was agreed at 1,478 tonnes.

For the west of Ireland, the ICES has advised that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches should be no more than 19 tonnes in each of the years 2021, 2022, and 2023. 

In the Bristol Channel/Celtic Sea, here the ICES advises that when the EU multiannual plan (MAP) for Western Waters and adjacent waters is applied, catches in 2021 that correspond to the F ranges in the plan are between 811 tonnes and 2,364 tonnes. According to the MAP, catches higher than those corresponding to FMSY (1413 tonnes) can only be taken under conditions specified in the MAP, whilst the entire range is considered precautionary when applying the ICES advice rule.

Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been above MSY Btrigger since 2009; it shows an increasing trend over the last few years and is now close to the highest estimated SSB in the time-series. Fishing mortality (F) has decreased in recent years and has been below FMSY since 2017. Recruitment (R) has been variable; the 2017 and 2019 estimates are among the highest in the time-series.

The advice for 2021 is lower than the advice for 2020 because the large 2016 year class has been reduced in abundance through fishing, the biomass is expected to decrease in 2021. This reduction, combined with a revised lower FMSY reference point, results in lower advised catch.

The agreed TAC for 2020 was 1,652 tonnes.

Celtic Sea South/southwest of Ireland, here the ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2021 should be no more than 213 tonnes.

The ICES cannot assess the stock and the exploitation status relative to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and precautionary approach (PA) reference points, because the reference points are undefined.

This stock was benchmarked in 2020 to address the inclusion of available new landings-at-age data for the Division 7.h component, fishery-independent indices, and to consider stock identity (ICES, 2020a). The benchmark concluded that there was no appropriate method for evaluating the stock status and trends, as the sampling only covers a small part of the total fishery, which is not considered to be representative of the whole area.

 Therefore, the benchmark concluded that a category 5 approach should be used to provide advice for this stock. Misreporting is considered to be an issue for this stock; however, it remains difficult to fully quantify. In the past, deviations between official catch statistics and ICES estimates of landings may have been caused by misreporting, driven by restrictive TACs in area (divisions 7.h–k) and in adjoining areas (Division 7.e). 

In addition, data submitted to ICES may have been incomplete. There have been fewer such deviations since 2004, due to an improvement in the quality of the data submitted to ICES after the introduction of the EU Data Collection Regulation (EU, 2001).

The agreed TAC for 2020 was 329 tonnes.

The ICES has released their advice on Sole quota for 2021

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