The UK allocated no 2021 quotas for sandeel or Norway pout, both of which are important industrial species used to produce fishmeal and fish oil that underpin the production of feed used in aquaculture and other food production.
Defra has issued a call for advice in a statement that highlights that UK’s credentials as an independent coastal state, while giving a clear impression of being slanted towards a continuation of the current situation with zero quotas for sandeel and Norway pout.
‘There is evidence that increased fishing pressure on certain North Sea sandeel stocks is linked to a reduction of breeding success of kittiwakes,’ Defra states in its call for advice.
‘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.’
According to Defra’s statement, they are seeking advice in four specific 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
‘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,’ Defra states.
‘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.’