Fishing is the main activity contributing to this pressure in the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast ecoregion. Both demersal
and pelagic commercial fisheries occur in most parts of the ecoregion. Recreational fishery is becoming a relatively important
activity and is in some cases taken into consideration for the management of marine fisheries. Tourism is also linked to aquatic
and marine activities that contribute to the increase of this pressure in coastal areas. This pressure has four main effects on
the ecosystem and its components, described below.
Image A shows the historical evolution of fishing mortality and spawning-stock biomass relative to reference points by
fish guild in the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast ecoregion. A general decrease of fishing effort in the region (in many cases
through reduction of the fleet) has contributed to an overall decline in the fishing mortality (F) of commercial fish stocks since
1988. The mean F is now closer to the level that produces maximum sustainable yield (MSY); as a consequence an increase in
the mean spawning-stock biomass has been observed since 2002.
Stocks of small pelagics like sardine and anchovy are highly influenced by natural recruitment variability and are therefore
prone to periodic collapses linked to oceanographic variability. These stocks are closely monitored and regulated by strict