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Ecosystem overviews and status of fish stocks presented to European Commission

Special EU seminar sees ICES deliver an overview of the status of a host of fish and shellfish stocks across the Northeast Atlantic and present the newly developed ecosystem overviews.
Published: 15 July 2016

​​​​​Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs, and Fisheries​ opened today's annual European Union "State of Fish Stocks and the Economics of Fishing Fleets" seminar organized by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) in Brussels.

The seminar included presentations on new science initiatives, long-term trends with respect to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in EU waters​, and fisheries' economic performance.

ICES Advisory Committee Chair, Eskild Kirkegaard, presented by ecoregion an overview of the biological status of fish and shellfish stocks of interest for EU fisheries for which ICES has provided advice so far in 2016. Encompassing around 150 stocks, the general picture is of a reduction in the exploitation level in accordance with the advice and in line with management objectives for sustainable fisheries. Kirkegaard pointed out that, "This year's assessments confirm the developments we have seen in recent years with a general decrease in exploitation towards the levels consistent with the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - maintaining stocks above levels which and produce the maximum sustainable yield."

Recording recreational catches

Using the assessments of western Baltic cod, sea bass, and salmon in the Baltic Sea, Kirkegaard demonstrated the increasing importance of recreational fisheries and the increasing need to document recreational catches for these stocks.​

Fishing mortality and stock size

The link between fishing mortality and stock size was also addressed. An expected outcome of reducing fishing mortality would be a positive response in terms of growth in stock size. Kirkegard noted that while it has, until now, been difficult to provide clear evidence of this, the result of the assessments conducted in 2016 and presented in ICES advice sheets now clearly document a positive response in stock sizes do to the observed reduction in exploitation. The current stock and exploitation status of all ICES stocks can be viewed on ICES website.

​Ecosystem overviews

New science initiatives from the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean and Black seas were also discussed. Chair of ICES Science Committee, Yvonne Walther, explained that ICES knowledge extends much further than the state of fish stocks, and used the recently produced Ecosystem Overviews​ to illustrate her point, stating that, "These documents will be useful to anyone interested in the state of ecosystems in the Northeast Atlantic". Walther presented the four available ecosystem overviews that have been released by ICES, namely the Barents Sea​, Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast, Celtic Seas, and Greater North Sea ecoegion. Comprehensive, yet easy to read, the overviews are aimed at managers, stakeholders, scientists alike and include knowledge of human activity, major regional pressures, and the state of ecosystem components as well as the status of marine mammals, seabirds, threatened species and non indigenous species. Further overviews are planned for all major ICES areas, as well as an overview for the Central Arctic Ocean.

You can watch all the presentations from today's seminar, including Yvonne Walther's and Eskild Kirkegard's, on DG MAREs​ webpage. Follow #EUFishEcon for all related tweets.​​​

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Ecosystem overviews and status of fish stocks presented to European Commission

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