Following on from the publication of last year's Ecosystem Overview for the Oceanic Northeast Atlantic, ICES releases a Fisheries Overview for this vast ecoregion.
Our Fisheries Overviews summarize fishing activities at ICES ecoregion-level, including which countries are catching what species, the various fishing methods being used, and how stocks are managed.
The Oceanic Northeast Atlantic ecoregion is entirely oceanic in an area beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), i.e. outside the exclusive economic zones of the EU member states, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. Here, the deepest waters of the North Atlantic are found. As the ecoregion lies beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of any of the adjacent countries, there are 20 nations are involved in commercial fisheries in the area, although they only target a few stocks.
The main fisheries are a multinational pelagic fishery for two beaked redfish stocks, the blue whiting fishery at Hatton-Rockall plateau using mid-water trawls, and the long-distance longliners fishing for large pelagic species (tuna, swordfish, and pelagic sharks). Very little deep-sea fisheries are conducted in the region.
ICES provided advice for 52 fish stocks in the Oceanic Northeast Atlantic in 2020. Around 13% of the assessed stocks are fished at or below FMSY target levels; around 13% of the stocks were assessed to be above MSY Btrigger. However, the majority of the stocks have unknown stock status.
A challenge in this region is the combination of large homogenous regions along with the presence of small regions that are within the limits of the continental slopes that have important fisheries but small importance in terms of area.
The main knowledge gaps are the abyssal plains and the pelagic community in the water columns.
What are Fisheries Overviews?
Fisheries Overviews summarize fishing activities within ICES ecoregions, including which countries are catching what species, the various fishing methods being used, and how stocks are managed. The wider effects of fishing activity on the ecosystem are also described – such as trawling's impact on the seabed and bycatch of non-targeted fish species, protected seabirds, and marine mammals. This increases our capacity to provide the integrated ecosystem advice that is required to meet the current and future needs of clients and stakeholders and ensures ICES aligns its fisheries advice to conform to both the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which are the umbrella legislation for the EU marine environmental standards.
"The overviews are for anyone with an interest in fisheries or management in the respective sea regions", explains Mark Dickey-Collas, Chair of ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) , "ICES single stock advice addresses how much you can take from a certain stock in the following year in accordance with the agreed management objectives, but it doesn't say anything about how they are being taken, by whom, and how this impacts the ecosystem. Our Fisheries Overviews address this by ecoregion while the Ecosystem Overviews put the fishing activities into the context of the trends and status of the marine ecosystem as a whole".
Read the new Fisheries Overview for the Oceanic Northeast Atlantic and all ICES Fisheries Overviews online.
Image: Eivind Sævik/ EMSPhoto (2019)