Closed consultation

Allowing vessels targeting plaice in the North Sea to use TR1 gears

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To allow vessels that target North Sea plaice using twin or multi rig gear to use a mesh size of greater than 100 mm (TR1), where they do not currently hold TR1 eligibility.

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Consultation description

Under Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2324 the days at sea allocations made to Member States for the TR1 and TR2 segments were merged. Our priority is to ensure that all English administered vessels have continuous access to a year-round fishery and hence we want use any surplus effort for this purpose or to support those vessels that are doing most for stock recovery. For those reasons we decided to retain the split in our rules for 2016-17.

While considering this dispensation, the MMO is mindful of the need to minimise the potential impact on cod mortality. As such, the proposed change is directed at vessels targeting plaice in the North Sea, a fleet segment known to have significantly lower catch per unit effort for cod than the average of the TR1 fleet as a whole. Vessels would be required to demonstrate that they have sufficient plaice quota, sufficient cod quota to cover by-catch and must agree to avoid cod.

Specifically vessels wishing to make use of this proposed option must meet the following criteria:

  • contact the effort management team to request a new authorisation be issued; the change will not be automatic
  • hold at least 1,000 tonnes North Sea plaice quota
  • hold at least 15 tonnes North Sea cod quota
  • be required to fish within the confines of the 5% cod catch per trip rules as outlined in section 7 of the Cod Recovery Scheme Rules
  • vessels not complying with the 5% cod catch per trip rules will be reverted back to their previous allocation and eligibility
  • should a vessel choose to notify for both TR1 and TR2 allocations, the TR1 allocation of days will be reduced in line with CRZ rule 4.4 (see link above). This rule already applies to all vessels notifying TR1 and TR2, and thus all vessels will be treated equally. This equates annually to 200 days (100 basic and 100 for <5% cod) of which a maximum of 135 days can be TR1. These days will be allocated pro-rata from the 1st of the month in which this change comes into effect
  • should a vessel wish to apply for TR1 days only they will receive a pro-rata allocation of TR1 days from the 1st of the month the change comes into effect, providing the application is received during that month. Annually this would equate to 200 days (100 basic and 100 <5% cod)

Based on records currently held by the MMO this change would be applicable to 6 vessels.

The decision on whether this proposal is agreed will be taken after a consultation with industry, analysis of potential risks and benefits, and a scientific evaluation of its impacts.

The potential benefits of the proposed change to TR1/TR2 gear for this activity are:

  • mprovement in selectivity in the plaice fishery in the North Sea.
  • a cut in the unmarketable catch, for example of reduce the capture of small plaice, dab and whiting.
  • operations with more environmental and economic efficiency.

The potential risks associated with the proposed change of TR1/TR2 gear are:

  • increasing cod mortality if applied more generally to the North Sea TR2 fleet at large.

We are seeking the views of industry stakeholders with an interest in the North Sea cod recovery zone. Please respond to the questions below:

  1. Should this change of scheme rules be permitted? Please give reasons.

  2. Do you agree with the minimum level of North Sea plaice (1,000 tonnes) and cod (15 tonnes) quota? If not, please explain and/or suggest alternative levels.

  3. Do you have any other comments that you think we need to consider when making this decision?

The MMO are keen to consult with you on this subject and would welcome any comments by 12 noon on 27 May 2016. Please send all responses to the following address:

Published 16 May 2016