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Commercial Fishing



Research and management plans for Bristol Channel fisheries. Last month, Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority completed work on a series of fisheries research and management plans (FRMPs) for commercial fishing species in the Bristol Channel. These plans were made up of information from complete reviews of available scientific literature and interviews with recreational and commercial fishers from the area to produce a series of recommendations for future research and management of the fisheries.

The scientific reviews included detailed information on species ecology, fisheries, stock status, management, and threats to the target species. This work was conducted in collaboration with the North Devon Biosphere and was originally designed as part of the Marine Pioneer project.

In order to manage inshore fisheries more effectively and sustainably, more information about the ecology and stock structure of local fish populations is needed to inform management. Following the introduction of the Fisheries Act, FRMPs have generated interest from Defra and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and may be used to feed further into the management of fisheries and highlight areas for research to focus on in the future. Due to this interest, Devon & Severn IFCA have been able to expand on this previous FRMP work and are currently in the process of writing new additional plans.

The original plans focused on herring, bass, skates and rays, whelk, and squid in the north of the D&S IFCA District. The new FRMPs will include plans for these species on the south coast of the D&S IFCA District, as well as new plans for additional species.

Fisher engagement will be key to the future success of these plans, so fishers are highly encouraged to engage with the D&S IFCA when contacted in the future to help ensure the effectiveness of the plans in improving inshore fisheries in the long-term. The completed FRMPs are available for viewing and download here.

Collaborating between countries has clearly improved the effectiveness of our surveys providing information on fluctuations in fish availability. That information will help us to produce more accurate survey indices and therefore a higher probability of sustainable management.”

The team is currently working on developing this statistical approach to combine data sources further and incorporating other facets of availability.

They are now exploring model-based approaches that can account for the complex responses of fish populations relative to their environment. For example, understanding how fish stocks respond to ocean conditions is important to best interpret survey data and track population trends. The team is now looking at ways to directly account for the influence of ocean conditions on the accuracy of the survey, often described as the “availability” of targeted species to the survey gear.

“This research is a great example of the elaborate and pertinent knowledge we can gain from sharing and combining scientific information among scientists, research centres, and across countries,” O’Leary said.

This research is a collaborative effort between NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center (Cecilia O’Leary, Stan Kotwicki, Gerald Hoff, James Thorson, James Ianelli, Robert Lauth, Daniel Nichol, Jason Conner); Pacific branch of the Russian Federal Research Institute Of Fisheries and Oceanography VNIRO (TINRO), Vladivostok, Russia ( Vladimir Kulik); School of Aquatic and Fishery Science, University of Washington (Cecilia O’Leary, André Punt).