The Marine Management Organisation and Defra have provided an update on a planned reduction in the quarter 3 catch limit for North Sea Nephrops.
The proposed catch limit of 4 tonnes has been reviewed using new scientific advice. This analysis demonstrates a 4 tonne catch limit is not required for this quarter.
An announcement made on 14 June 2018 explained that the reduction to catch limits had been planned as part of a package of measures to deliver recovery of Farne Deeps nephrops stocks.
Since this date, more up-to-date information has been received from Cefas following their annual video survey of nephrops burrows in the Farne Deeps, completed on 26 June 2018. A preliminary analysis of this data shows a modest but continued increase in stock abundance which, in conjunction with further analysis of MMO landings data of the year to date, gives a more positive impression on stock health. As such, the decision has been made to revise the planned reduction and the July to September catch limit will therefore be maintained at 20 tonnes per vessel.
In addition to this, the MMO has also discussed potential measures with industry, short of a reduction in catch limits, to help relieve pressure on nephrops stocks in the area. During discussions with North East fishermen in particular, the potential for a targeted mackerel fishery was identified. In response to this, the MMO will be increasing the North Sea mackerel catch limit per vessel to 4 tonnes per month for July.