Sustainable Fisheries

Fisheries and Conservation Science Group

Sustainable Use of Fisheries Resources in Welsh Waters

The Welsh fishing industry is primarily an inshore fleet with only 10% of fishers working in offshore waters (beyond six nautical miles). Consequently, this inshore fleet is dependent on the sustainability of the local stocks. This is in comparison to nomadic or offshore fleets which can operate extensively around the UK or further afield and are therefore not reliant on local sustainability. It is imperative to the livelihoods of Welsh fishers that the key species providing income to the Welsh fleet are managed sustainably. However, very little information is available on the distribution, abundance and biology of these target species in Welsh waters which makes the sustainable management of these fisheries very difficult.

This project aims to put in place a programme of scientific evidence gathering through collaboration between academics, industry and government funded bodies and policy makers and managers which will inform management decisions to work towards a truly sustainable future for Welsh fisheries.
The project relies on extensive involvement in data gathering by the fishing industry and there has been substantial expression of support from industry with scientists and fishermen working together to ensure the future of the industry.

The project is split into five work streams:

  • Gathering of fishermen's knowledge through interviews and questionnaires;
  • Habitat mapping;
  • Distribution and abundance of different target species;
  • Connectivity of populations;
  • Management and policy.
As well as working in close connection to the fishing industry this project will collaborate with the Welsh Government, Countryside Council for Wales, CEFAS and scientists at Aberystwyth University.

The project is funded by the

European Fisheries Fund (EFF)

Isle of Man Fisheries

The School of Ocean Sciences is contracted to provide underpinning science and fisheries advice to the Isle of Man Government with respect to use of its marine natural resources. The major fisheries in the waters surrounding the Isle of Man are scallops, crabs and lobster and Norway lobster.

The Isle of Man is located in the Northern Irish Sea and has legal jurisdiction over the sea extending to 3 nautical miles from its shoreline. This legal control has led to innovations such as the instigation of the Bradda closed area just off Port Erin which has been subject to intense research over the last 20 years. Other innovations include the installation of Vessel Monitoring Systems on all vessels using towed fishing gear. The fisheries in the Isle of Man are focussed on shellfish and are high value in terms of the price per unit of product. The School of Ocean Sciences has undertaken to maintain the invaluable long-term dataset collated by Dr Andrew Brand formerly of the University of Liverpool and to develop a programme of research that will underpin sustainable fisheries into the future. To this end we will instigate a programme that: Examines the source and sink populations for scallops using predictive oceanography models, validated by field observations. Undertake commercial and research vessel gear comparison trials in anticipation of increasing sampling effort for population analyses. Undertake a socio-economic analysis of the value of Isle of Man fisheries and other uses of the marine environment. Develop predictive behavioural models to understand the dynamics of the fleet in relation to natural and economic drivers.

Trial of environmentally friendly dredge

Dredge fisheries for scallops operate around much of the European coastline and can contribute significantly to local revenue. However, dredging relies on steel teeth to dig scallops from the sediment, and is known to have a detrimental impact on benthic communities. As a result, no dredge fisheries have yet been certified as ecologically sustainable. As part of a move towards sustainability in Isle of Man fisheries, we will soon initiate trials with an exciting prototype hydrodredge. This new gear, in development by Cliff Goudey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses hydrodynamic cups to direct a turbulent flow of water toward the seabed. The focused and powerful wave has been shown to lift scallops out of the sediment without the use of aggressive 'teeth'. The hydrodredge is currently being shipped from Massachusetts to the Isle of Man. After it arrives, Cliff Goudey will visit from the U.S. and provide advice on rigging and working the dredge at optimum efficiency. We will then conduct experiments to compare catches and benthic impact between the hydrodredge and conventional fishing gear.

Associated publications

Kaiser M.J., Clarke K.R., Hinz H., Austen M.C.V., Somerfield P.J. and Karakassis I. 2006. Global analysis and prediction of the response of benthic biota and habitats to fishing. Marine Ecology Progress Series 311: 1-14.

Shephard, S., P. Connolly, N-R. Hareide and E. Rogan. In Press. Establishing stakeholder connections for management of the Irish orange roughy fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Shephard, S., and D. C. Jackson. 2006. Difference in Channel Catfish Growth Among Mississippi Stream Basins. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135:000-000.

Shephard, S., and E. Rogan. 2006. Seasonal distribution of orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) on the Porcupine Bank west of Ireland. Fisheries Research 77: 17-23.

Shephard, S., and D. C. Jackson. 2005. Maturity of channel catfish in Mississippi streams. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:1467–1475

Shephard, S., and D. C. Jackson. 2004. Size selection of channel catfish in slat traps having different interslat space widths. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133(1)197-203.

Kaiser M.J. 2003. Detecting the effects of fishing on seabed community diversity: the importance of scale and sample size. Conservation Biology 17: 512-520.

Kaiser M.J., Spence F.E. & Hart P.J.B. 2000. Fishing gear restrictions conserve benthic habitat complexity. Conservation Biology 14: 1512-1525.

Kaiser M.J., Ramsay K., Richardson C.A., Spence F.E. & Brand A.R. 2000. Chronic historical fishing disturbance has changed shelf sea benthic community structure. Journal of Animal Ecology, 69: 494-503.

Jenkins SR, Lart W, Vause B, Brand AR. 2003 Seasonal swimming behaviour in the queen scallop (Aequipecten opercularis) and its effect on dredge fisheries. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 289:163-179.

Jenkins SR, Brand AR. 2001 The effect of dredge capture on the escape response of the great scallop, Pecten maximus (L.): implications for the survival of undersized discards. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 266:33-50.

Beukers-Stewart BD, Jenkins SR, Brand AR. 2001 The efficiency and selectivity of spring-toothed scallop dredges: a comparison of direct and indirect methods of assessment. Journal of Shellfish Research 20:121-126.

Jenkins SR, Beukers-Stewart B, Brand AR. 2001 The impact of scallop dredging on benthic megafauna: a comparison of damage levels in captured and non-captured organisms. Marine Ecology Progress Series 215: 297-301.