Profile updated on 14 September 2016

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Gadus morhua

SPECIES NAME(s)

Atlantic cod

COMMON NAMES

7e-k cod

Cod within ICES VIIe-k shows limited movement to other areas and similarity in population parameters and trends (ICES, 2015) supporting the approach that it is a unique biological stock.


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • Precautionary reference points have been defined.
  • An EC management plan is to be established in the future.
Weaknesses
  • No analytical assessment is conducted.
  • Discarding is variable but high-grading is also a problem in the fishery.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

3.5

Managers Compliance:

1.2

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

9.4

Future Health:

6.9


RECOMMENDATIONS

CATCHERS & REGULATORS
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RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for development/update, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Celtic Sea and W English Channel EU France Single boat bottom otter trawls
Ireland Beam trawls
Scottish seines
Single boat bottom otter trawls
United Kingdom Beam trawls
Set gillnets (anchored)
Single boat bottom otter trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 24 October 2011

Strengths
  • Precautionary reference points have been defined.
  • An EC management plan is to be established in the future.
Weaknesses
  • No analytical assessment is conducted.
  • Discarding is variable but high-grading is also a problem in the fishery.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 14 September 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators
  • Please provide links to publicly available information on this fishery via the “Feedback” tab.
  • To apply to develop/update content for this profile register and log in and follow the links to “contribute to” / “edit this profile”. If you need more information, please use the “Contact Us” button above, and reference the full name of this profile.
Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for development/update, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 27 September 2011

Cod in ICES Divisions VIIe-k is jointly assessed although Divisions VIIj and k were first included in 1997 due to lack of data and not according to biological criteria (ICES, 2008a). Management covers a much larger area, not all of which is assessed (ICES, 2008a, 2009a). ICES Division VIId was excluded in the TAC area in 2009 which bring management area more into line with the boundaries of the stock (ICES, 2009a,b).

In 2009, a Benchmark workshop evaluated the methodology for the assessment of the Atlantic cod stock in Celtic Sea concluding that, given the uncertainties in the assessment of discards practices estimates (small discard and high- grading) and the misreporting of the landings, an analytical assessment procedure could not be developed until further investigations or datasets on landings, recorded and high grading are available (ICES, 2009a,b,c). Consequently, the analytical assessment method used previously is no longer appropriate (ICES, 2009a,b).

Discarding, underreporting and area misreporting aggravated by more restrictive quotas are named as the main sources of uncertainty in the assessment whereas estimation of recruiting year classes and high-grading practices are responsible for most uncertainty in forecasts (ICES, 2008b, 2009a,b). Sampling programmes have shown that discarding is high and variable, accounting for 40-60% of catches by number and consisting mainly of undersized fish and, more recently, of high-graded fish (ICES, 2008b, 2009a) but sampling is insufficient to allow the changing discarding patterns in the various fisheries to be better estimated (ICES, 2008a). A correction for area misreporting has been made to landings data since 2004, and French landings (the largest) were also corrected for high-grading from 2003 to 2005 but the accuracy of this procedure is unknown and the assessment is contingent on the efficiency of the corrections made (ICES, 2008a).

Recruitment estimation is hampered by young cod’s distribution in inshore bays and shallow reefs where groundfish surveys do not sample, but a project is underway to establish a dedicated recruit survey (ICES, 2008a).
Currently, cod stock assessment in the Celtic Sea cannot be reliably evaluated given the inadequate available information on landings, cpue, surveys and stock structure (ICES, 2009a).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 24 October 2011

The stock has been observed in the past to be recruitment driven – responding rapidly to good recruitment and negatively in response to poor recruitment (ICES, 2008b, 2009a).

TACs are proving inefficient as management measures, leading to increased discarding which continues to impair the stock and to undermine the accuracy of the assessments (ICES, 2008a, 2009a).

Although currently no quantitative advice can be given, ICES advise that both catches and fishing effort should be reduced in order to reduce mortality and rebuild the stock. Also, improvement of the fishing pattern and reduction of discard levels, by means of technical measures or changing spatial and temporarily fishing practices, should be encouraged (ICES, 2009a).

Reference Points

Last updated on 24 Oct 2011

The following precautionary reference points were defined in 2004 according to the precautionary approach:

 TypeValue
PrecautionaryBlim6,300 t
approachBpa8,800 t
 Flim0.90
 Fpa0.68
 FyNot defined

The basis for defining the value of Blim was Bloss, the lowest value observed in the spawning stock biomass (SSB) series, in 1976. Bpa was set at Blim*1.4, which according to the stock dynamics and assessment uncertainty, ensures with a high probability that SSB will remain above Blim. At 0.90, Flim is the fishing mortality predicted to lead to stock collapse, whereas Fpa is the 5th percentile of Floss and is thought to be safely below Flim and to have a strong chance of keeping SSB above Bpa in the medium term (ICES, 2008b, 2009a).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 24 October 2011

Inadequate available information on stock landings, cpue, surveys and stock structure makes the stock unknown (ICES, 2009a).

The SSB increased to slightly above Blim in 2008, after being below it since 2004 (ICES, 2008b). After nearly two decades of high fishing mortality, it decreased and, at 0.602, is below Fpa but well above the range that is estimated to lead to high yields and a low risk of stock depletion in the long term (ICES, 2008b). Recruitment has been weak since 2002 (ICES, 2008b) although the estimate of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 size classes has been strongly revised upwards (ICES, 2008a, 2009a).

During the period from 1995 to 2000, lpue declined and remains at low level (ICES, 2009a).

Trends

Last updated on 24 Oct 2011

The 1986 year class was around four times the average and was followed by a historically large spawning biomass and record landings of 20,000 t in 1989, an increase from annual catches of around 3-4,000 t during the 1970s. A plateau of stable catches ensued at around 11,000 t with a similarly sized biomass. Both landings and biomass had decreased by 2000, to around 6,500 t, close to the current Blim. After a short increase in both parameters, there followed a historically low series, from where both SSB and landings have shown a slight increase since 2006. Fishing mortality was above Fpa from 1986 to 2006 and above Flim from 1990-1992 and 1998-2003, but has decreased since 2003 and has been below Fpa since 2006. Recruitment is variable but all year classes since 2002 are below average. However the estimate for the 2005 class has been revised upwards and is starting to be felt in the spawning biomass, contributing to 2008’s increase (ICES, 2008a). Currently, stock trends cannot be evaluated reliably due to inadequate available information (ICES, 2009a).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 16 June 2009

No management objectives have been specifically stated and no management plan adopted (ICES, 2008b, 2009a,b). In 2008, a proposal was made to include the Celtic Sea stock in the revision of the EC’s cod recovery plan (COM, 2008) and although it was eventually not included, the Council committed to promoting the establishment of a long-term management plan for the stock (EC, 2009a). French opposition to the plan had been registered, as it was thought to unfairly penalize métiers which contribute less to the exploitation of the stock (ICES, 2008a).

A TAC is set for ICES Divisions VIIb-c, e-k, Subareas VIII, IX, X and CECAF 34.1.1 although ICES’ assessment and advice applies only to Divisions VIIe-k (the Celtic sea and its westwards extension). The 2009 TAC was set at 4,023 t (EC, 2009b, 2009c). Other management measures for cod in area VIIe-k also apply to cod in VIIb,c and d (ICES, 2008b). A minimum landing size of 35 cm applies to the fleet with the exception of Belgian trawlers landing in Belgium where it is 40 cm (ICES, 2008b, 2009a). A minimum mesh size regulates beam and otter trawlers (ICES, 2008b, 2009a).

A partial closure of the Celtic sea has been enforced during the first quarter of the year since 2005 to reduce effort on spawning aggregations (ICES, 2009a) but the direct impacts of these closures have not yet been determined (ICES, 2008b). Effort is regulated in a ‘biologically sensitive area’ in Divisions VIIb, h-j (ICES, 2008a, 2009b).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 16 Jun 2009

The Celtic Sea cod stock was not included in the EU’s 2004 cod recovery plan as its status was not as worrisome as other stocks, but a proposed 2008 revision to the plan included the stock on the basis of its deterioration since 2005 and it now being considered to be as overexploited as other cod stocks (COM, 2008). The final approved plan did not include the stock but it was decided that a long-term plan for Celtic Sea cod would be established, based on the proposed plan (EC, 2009a). The proposed management plan aimed to exploit the fishery according to maximum sustainable yield (MSY), as the EC has committed to do for its fisheries (COM, 2008), while maintaining fishing mortality (age 2-4) at 0.4 (COM, 2008). An annual TAC would be set, based on a 10-25% reduction in fishing mortality (F) determined by the stock’s size in relation to Blim and Bpa, but not reducing F beyond 0.4 (COM, 2008). A provision for setting the TAC in data poor conditions was included and a reevaluation of the recovery measures scheduled at three year intervals, at which points TACs could be further reduced (COM, 2008). A fishing effort regime to complement the TAC measures would allocate limits to Member States annually to be reduced in accordance with TAC reductions; a number of additional management measures would promote good practices (COM, 2008).

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 24 October 2011

There have been indications of underreporting of landings by some fleets in recent years and although the introduction of buyers and sellers’ legislation in the UK and Ireland together with increased control and enforcement is thought to have reduced the problem it has simultaneously increased discarding rates (ICES, 2008a,b, 2009a). Discarding and high-grading have also increased in response to the more restrictive quotas introduced in 2002 (ICES, 2009a) and discarding was expected to be a problem again in 2008 due to the early near-fulfillment of quotas (ICES, 2008b). Landings have generally been lower than the set TAC.

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 16 June 2009

Elasmobranchs are an important targeted and bycatch species in demersal Celtic Sea fisheries (ICES, 2007), particularly spurdog Squalus acanthias and tope Galeorhinus galeus (ICES, 2008c), both classified as vulnerable on IUCN’s Red List (IUCN, 2008). Basking shark Cetorhinus maximus, occur in the Celtic Sea from April through to October and the stock appears to be severely depleted (ICES, 2008c). Skates in the region such as the critically endangeredcommon skate Dipturus batis (IUCN, 2008) are especially vulnerable because of their slow growth, large size, late maturity and low fecundity (ICES, 2008c) and may not be retained on board (EC, 2009b). Both thornback ray Raja clavata and smalleyed ray, R. microocellata are classified as lower risk/near threatened (IUCN, 2008).

None of the cetacean, seal or seabird populations are currently known to be at risk but cetacean bycatch is considered to be a threat to their conservation in this region (ICES, 2008c).

Other Species

Last updated on 24 October 2011

Cod is caught in a range of fisheries operating different gear: gadoid trawlers, Nephrops trawlers, otter trawlers, beam trawlers and gillnetters which also take as other commercial species haddock, whiting, Nephrops, plaice, sole, anglerfish, hake, megrim and elasmobranchs (ICES, 2008b, 2009a,b).

HABITAT

Last updated on 24 October 2011

The Celtic sea is the southernmost limit of the distribution of North-east Atlantic cod and recruitment here is known to be more vulnerable to increases in temperature (ICES, 2008b, 2009a) with a recruitment decline in the 1990s coinciding with an increase in sea surface temperatures (ICES, 2008c, 2009a). The area has steadily been growing warmer in recent years which are a concern for the stock (ICES, 2008a).

The impact of demersal fishing in the area on the benthos and benthic communities is also a concern and discarding of a variety of macrobenthic species is widespread, impacting on the biomass, production, size structure and diversity of the communities (ICES, 2008a)

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 24 Oct 2011

With the aim of reducing fishing mortality on cod, three rectangles in the Celtic sea were closed for the first quarter of 2005, excepting the use of pots and creels and nets with <55 mm mesh size and (during March) of beam trawl (ICES, 2007, 2009a,c). In February and March of 2006 to 2009 the same closures has applied although the area within 6 nm of the coastal baseline was excluded (EC, 2009b; ICES, 2008a, 2009a,b). The closed area consists of around 2.5% of the stock’s distribution area but 17% of its area of highest distribution, including the main spawning area in the eastern Celtic Sea (ICES, 2007). The apparent effects have been a further reduction in effort by the French fleet, that historically have been a large fraction of the VIIe-k cod landings, and some displacement of vessels from spawning aggregations in both time and space (ICES, 2009a,b), including to surrounding areas where catch rates were typically lower (ICES, 2007). It was also noted that the closure’s effect on fishing mortality would only be present in the first year of the closure and would not lead to any further reductions in F (ICES, 2008a). However, direct impacts not associated with other factors will be difficult to estimate until more data has been collected and its quality improved (ICES, 2007). Given the slighter importance of the SE coast of Ireland as a fish ground for the EU whitefish fleets and the shoddier knowledge of the distribution of cod spawning activity, the closure of the rectangle off the Irish coast is less effective (ICES, 2009a,b).

A ‘biologically sensitive area’ to the southwest of Ireland is effort regulated (EC, 2003, 2009b).

FishSource Scores

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2007 data.

The score is 3.5.

This measures the F as a percentage of the Fmsy.

The F is 0.655 (age-averaged). The Fmsy is 0.400 .

The underlying F/Fmsy for this index is 164%.

As calculated for 2009 data.

The score is 1.2.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the Advised TAC.

The Set TAC is 4.02 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 2.60 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 155%.

As calculated for 2010 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Landings as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Landings is 3.20 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 4.02 ('000 t) .

The underlying Landings/Set TAC for this index is 79.5%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is 9.4.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the SSBpa.

The SSB is 11.9 ('000 t). The SSBpa is 8.80 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/SSBpa for this index is 136%.

As calculated for 2010 data.

The score is 6.9.

This measures the F as a percentage of the Fmsy.

The F is 0.511 (age-averaged). The Fmsy is 0.400 .

The underlying F/Fmsy for this index is 128%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.
DATA NOTES
  1. The set TACs apply to ICES Divisions VIIb-k and Subarea VIII whereas estimated landings apply only to Divisions VIIe-k and ICES advised TAC applies to VIIf+g (1987-1994), VIIf-h (1995 and 1996), VIIe-h (1997-1999) or VIIe-k (2000-2003).
  2. 2003-2006 landings data include estimates of high-grading.
  3. No target fishing mortality or fishing mortality to be adopted at low biomass have been defined.

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits
  1. COM, 2008. Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 423/2004 as regards the recovery of cod stocks and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93. COM(2008) 162 final. Commission of the European Communities.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2008:0162:FIN:EN:PDF
  2. EC, 2003. Council Regulation (EC) No 1954/2003 of 4 November 2003 on the management of the fishing effort relating to certain Community fishing areas and resources and modifying Regulation (EC) No 2847/93 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 685/95 and (EC) No 2027/95.http://faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/eur40286.pdf
  3. EC, 2009a. Addendum to draft minutes, 2917th meeting of the Council of the European Union (Agriculture and Fisheries), held in Brussels on 18 December 2008.http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/08/st17/st17454-ad01.en08.pdf
  4. EC, 2009b. Council Regulation (EC) No 43/2009 of 16 January 2009, fixing for 2009 the fishing opportunities and associated conditions for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Community waters and, for Community vessels, in waters where catch limitations are required.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:022:0001:0205:EN:PDF
  5. ICES, 2007. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management, Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment and Advisory Committee on Ecosystems, Book 5: The Celtic Sea and West of Scotland. 5.3.3.1 EU request on Trevose closure.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2007/Special%20Requests/EC%20Trevose%20closure.pdf
  6. ICES, 2008a. Report of the Working Group on the Assessment of Southern Shelf Demersal Stocks (WGSSDS), April 30-May 6, 2008, Copenhagen, Denmark (ICES CM 2008/ACOM:12).http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2008/WGSSDS/wgssds2008.pdf
  7. ICES, 2008b. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management, Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment and Advisory Committee on Ecosystems, Book 5: The Celtic Sea and West of Scotland. 5.4.2 Cod in Divisions VIIe-k (Celtic Sea cod). http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2008/2008/cod-7e-k.pdf
  8. ICES, 2008c. Report of the Working Group for Regional Ecosystem Description (WGRED), 25-29 February 2008, ICES, Copenhagen, Denmark (ICES CM 2008/ACOM:47).http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2008/WGRED/wgred_2008.pdf
  9. ICES, 2009a. ICES Advice 2009, Book 5 5.4.2 Cod in Divisions VIIe-k (Celtic Sea Cod). 7 pp.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2009/2009/cod-7e-k.pdf
  10. ICES, 2009b. Report of the Working Group on the Celtic Seas Region (WGCSE), 13–19http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2009/WGCSE/DRAFT_wgcse_2009.pdf
  11. ICES, 2009c. Stock Annexes to the Report of the Working Group on the Celtic Seas Region (WGCSE), 13–19 May 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2009/ACOM:09. 329 pp. http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2009/WGCSE/DRAFT_StockAnnexes_wgcse_2009.pdf
  12. ICES, 2012a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 5: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland 6.4.2 Ecoregion: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland. Stock: Cod in Divisions VIIe–k (Celtic Sea cod). Advice summary for 2013, 11 pp.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2012/2012/cod-7e-k.pdf
  13. IUCN, 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 17 April 2009.http://www.iucnredlist.org
References

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