Theme session H comes at an opportune time, as recent reports of the uncontrolled exploitation of non-quota species have generated considerable concern. The conveners will examine the uncontrolled fishing of (temporarily and locally) abundant non-quota species when there is a low abundance of target stocks, as was the case in 2017 for cuttlefish in the English Channel. It raises questions of whether we can forecast high abundance episodes in such species, whether we can predict when they are likely to come under pressure (why or when fishers will switch to these species), and what measures can be taken to control or mitigate the effects of intense exploitation of non-quota species.
Such species represent an increasing share of fishers' income, especially when other (usually quota) species show signs of overexploitation. ICES has an important role to play in addressing these concerns. Most current tools to assess data-poor stocks are adapted for species with population dynamics similar to those of data-rich stocks, and aim at providing the same reference points as analytical assessments. Many fished resources, namely "non-quota species", do not fit within this framework, are not assessed, and their management is not based on scientific advice. Such resources are often characterized by different time-scales for population dynamics, difference in sensitivity to environmental fluctuations, different roles and trophic levels in the ecosystem, and different exploitation patterns and métiers (e.g. multi-gear small-scale fleets) involved.
Theme session H will cover topics such as:
Non-quota species are biologically diverse and their life history often departs markedly from that of typical quota species. Their assessment and management therefore requires different approaches, and they serve different markets. The session will therefore be inter- and transdisciplinary so will allow scientists, managers, others working on data-poor non-quota species, and those in related disciplines, to come together and exchange ideas.
Discussions will also take place on setting up a new ICES workshop to address issues relating to the assessment and management of short-lived/semelparous/non-quota/data-poor species, and the possible terms of reference for such a group.