Concerns for the 2016 sandeel season expressed by Jesper Juul Larsen, chairman of the South-West Jutland Fishermen’s Association, appear to be well founded following the ICES quota recommendations last week.
The ICES recommendations add up to something not far from a zero quota and this is a long way from last year’s 350,000 tonnes quota. The loss of the sandeel season this year will result in a loss of a billion DKK in exports, in particular a DKK 350 million loss for Danish west coast industrial fishermen.
The 2015 season saw the quota largely uncaught, which can be attributed to the system used by the Danish administrators in partitioning the fishery in to zones, with quotas and areas failing to coincide. Only 54% of last year’s 330,000 tonne quota was caught, in spite of large volumes of sandeel to be found on fishing grounds – but not in the areas where fishing was allowed.
This year two zones have zero quota recommendations, one has a recommended quota so low as to be virtually zero and three have recommended quotas of 5-6000 tonnes. Only area 3 has a more generous recommended quota of 63,000 tonnes, although this is barely a third of the same areas quota in 2015.
The European Commission still has to approve the ICES recommendations, which is expected to happen soon.