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Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
- Work with managers to develop a spatially explicit management plan for the fisheries that catch Baltic sprat, ensuring there are adequate amounts of sprat in all areas to serve as prey for cod stocks and other ecosystem needs.
- Improve catch, discard, and bycatch data reporting. Catch and discard data should be reported at a species specific level, and bycatch data collection should include interactions with birds and mammals, especially for the gillnet fleet.
- Ensure future TACs are set in accordance with scientific advice.
- Ensure these recommendations are represented to the EU Pelagic Advisory Council (https://www.pelagic-ac.org/) directly or through one of the General Assembly members.
Last updated on 19 July 2018
The model used is an age-based analytical assessment (XSA) that uses catches in the model and in the forecast (ICES 2018). The sprat assessment was benchmarked in 2013 (ICES 2013) . Input data include commercial catches, two acoustic surveys (BASS and BIAS), natural mortalities from the multispecies model (SMS) and regression of predation mortality against eastern Baltic cod spawning stock biomass (ICES 2018).
Discards are not included as they are considered negligible (ICES 2018).
Regarding the quality of the input data, it is expected that misreporting of catches occur as the estimates of species composition of the cupleid catches are imprecise in some mixed pelagic fisheries (ICES 2018). These uncertainties could influence the estimates of absolute stock size and fishing mortality (ICES 2018).
"The retrospective pattern show quite large deviations of estimates for certain years. In case of fishing mortality the deviations are to some extent caused by Fbar based on three values only (F-at-age 3–5), that is sensitive to bias in F-at-age, occurring especially for weak year classes neighbouring a strong year class. The predicted SSB for the year following the prediction year is very sensitive to the assumed (GM) year class strength" (ICES 2018).
A SAM model was also attempted at benchmark workshop as second stock assessment option (ICES 2013) and last available SAM estimates come from the 2017 assessment (ICES 2017). "For 2016 the SAM estimate of SSB and recruitment are lower than the XSA estimate by 16% and 42% while the fishing mortality is higher by 23% than the XSA value. The XSA estimates are contained within SAM confidence intervals" (ICES 2018). The residuals distributions for SAM model show similar patterns as in the case of the XSA model (ICES 2018). The retrospective analysis for the SAM model was better than for the XSA model (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 19 July 2018
Since 2017, ICES provides advice on the fishing opportunities for sprat in the Baltic Sea according to the EU multiannual plan (MAP) established in 2016 (EU 2016). The MPA and ICES advice are considered precautionary. For advice, the ICES rule is used, i.e. F is adjusted by the factor SSB/MSY Btrigger when SSB is below MSY Btrigger. For this stock, the SSB in 2018 is predicted to be above MSY Btrigger. In this situation, catch scenarios applicable under the MAP correspond to the following range of fishing mortalitites: Flower =0.19 and Fupper=0.27 (EU 2016).
For 2019, ICES advices than "when the EU MAP is applied, catches that correspond to the F ranges are between 225,752 tonnes and 311,523 tonnes. According to the MAP, catches corresponding to F higher than FMSY (301,125 tonnes) can only be taken under conditions specified in the MAP" (ICES 2018).
ICES recommends that a spatial management plan is developed for the fisheries that catch sprat, with the aim to improve cod condition (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 19 July 2018
The spawning stock biomass has been low in the first half of 1980s. In the beginning of 1990s the stock started to increase rapidly and in 1996–1997 it reached the maximum observed spawning stock biomass of 1.9 million tonnes in 1996. The stock size increased due to the combination of strong recruitments and decline in natural mortality (effect of low cod biomass). In the following years the stock declined and since 2002 the spawning biomass has been fluctuating at range of 0.9–1.2 million t., and declined again below the average (~0.95 million t.) during 2011-2015. In recent years SSB has increased and it has been relatively stable after 2016 with values around 1.3 million t (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018).
After 2000 fishing mortality increased and fluctuated usually between Fpa and Flim, with a significant decrease after 2015 to values around FMSY.
According to the last ICES report fishing pressure in 2017 was 0.28, which is slightly above FMSY (0.26) and below Fpa (0.32) and Flim (0.39). The stock is at full reproductive capacity (ICES 2018). SSB in 2017 was at 1,303,000 tonnes and the predicted value in 2018 is 1,366,000 tonnes, well above MSY Btrigger (570,000 tonnes), Bpa (570,000 tonnes) and Blim (410,000 tonnes). Recruitment (age 1) in 2018 was 112,860 thousand individuals representing a considerable increase with previous year and making 2017 the second best year-class in the last decade after the 2014 year class (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 19 July 2018
Until 2005, the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC) was responsible for the management of the fishing resources in the Baltic Sea, including sprat. A Long-Term Management Strategy for the Sprat Stock in the Baltic Sea was adopted in 2000 but terminated in 2006. Baltic Sea fisheries management is under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and Russian Ministry of Agriculture legislation.
Since 2016, the stocks of sprat, cod and herring in the Baltic Sea are managed through a multiannual plan (MAP) (EU 2016). The MAP is considered to be precautionary. The MAP establishes a range of target fishing mortality corresponding to the objective of "reaching and maintaining MSY as ranges of values which are consistent with achieving maximum sustainable yield (FMSY). Those ranges, based on scientific advice, are necessary in order to provide flexibility to take account of developments in the scientific advice, to contribute to the implementation of the landing obligation and to take into account the characteristics of mixed fisheries. The FMSY ranges are derived to deliver no more than a 5 % reduction in long-term yield compared to MSY. The upper limit of the range is capped, so that the probability of the stock falling below the limit spawning stock biomass reference point (Blim) is no more than 5 %. That upper limit also conforms to the so-called ICES advice rule, which indicates that when the spawning stock biomass is below the minimum spawning stock biomass reference point (MSY Btrigger), F is to be reduced to a value that does not exceed an upper limit equal to the FMSY point value multiplied by the spawning stock biomass in the TAC year, divided by MSY Btrigger" (EU 2016).
"ICES uses those considerations and the advice rule in its provision of scientific advice on fishing mortality and catch options" (EU 2016).
"For the purposes of fixing fishing opportunities, there should be an upper threshold for FMSY ranges in normal use and, provided that the stock concerned is considered to be in a good state (above MSY Btrigger), an upper limit for certain cases" (EU 2016).
The EU set a TAC of 262,300 tonnes for the EU countries in 2018, whereas the Russian autonomous quota for the same year is 42,600 tonnes. This means that the total TAC for Baltic sprat in 2018 is 304,900 tonnes (European Council (EU) 2017), slightly above the upper advised catch by ICES (301,722 tonnes).
When scientific advice indicates that a stock is at low biomass levels "safeguard measures should include the reduction of fishing opportunities and specific conservation measures" (EU 2016).
The use of fishing logbooks as required under Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 should be extended to fishing vessels of an overall length of 8 metres or more (EU 2016).
The following reference points have been established for this stock (ICES 2018) :
|Framework||Reference point||Value||Technical basis |
|MSY approach||MSY Btrigger||570,000||Assumed at Bpa |
| ||FMSY||0.26||Stochastic simulations with segmented regression and Ricker stock–recruitment curves from the 1992–2013 time-series. |
|Precautionary approach||Blim||410,000||Stock–recruitment relationship (biomass which produces half of the maximal recruitment in a Beverton–Holt model). |
| ||Bpa||570,000||Blim × 1.4 |
| ||Flim||0,39||Consistent with Blim. |
| ||Fpa||0,32||Consistent with Bpa. |
|Management plan||MAP MSY Btrigger||570,000||MSY Btrigger |
| ||MAP Blim||410,000||Blim |
| ||MAP FMSY||0.26||FMSY |
| ||MAP target range Flower-FMSY||0.19-0.26||Consistent with the ranges provided by ICES (2015), resulting in no more than 5% reduction in long-term yield compared with MSY. |
| ||MAP target range FMSY-Fupper||0.26-0.27||Consistent with the ranges provided by ICES (2015), resulting in no more than 5% reduction in long-term yield compared with MSY. |
Last updated on 19 July 2018
Managers have set TACs close to or above the advised catch in the last years. In 2018, advised catch was in the range 219,152-301,722 tonnes but the total TAC set by the EU plus the Russian autonomous quota was 304,900 tonnes. Fishers compliance has been good in last years with catches higher than the total TAC only in years 2009 (2.0% above), 2015 (2,9%) and 2016 (1,5%) (ICES 2018).
This fishery operates under the landing obligation of the EU. Historically, discards in most countries have probably been small because the undersized and lower quality fish can be used for production of fish meal and feeding in animal farms. In fisheries directed for human consumption (see (Lassen 2011)), however, young fish (0 and 1 age groups) were discarded at unknown, but likely high, rates especially in years when strong year classes recruit to the fishery (ICES 2017).
Last updated on 8 April 2014
There are no records of bycatch of seabirds and mammals in sprat industrial fishery in the Baltic. However, some studies have shown that fishing nets, in particular set nets, have caused considerable mortality for long-tailed ducks Clangula hyemalis (Vulnerable in 2012 IUCN Red list; BirdLife International, 2012a), velvet scoters Melanitta fusca (Endangered in 2013 IUCN Red list; BirdLife International, 2013a), Common eiders Somateria mollissima (Least concern in 2012 IUCN Red list; BirdLife International, 2012b), Common scoters Melanitta nigra (Least concern in 2013 IUCN Red list; BirdLife International, 2013b) and Greater scaup Aythya marila (Least concern in 2012 IUCN Red list; BirdLife International, 2012c) (Žydelis et al, 2009).
At least four species of marine mammals can be found in the Baltic Sea: Grey seal Halichoerus grypus (Least concern in 2008 IUCN Red list; Thompson and Härkönen, 2008), Harbour seal Phoca vitulina vitulina (Vulnerable; HELCOM Red list), ringed seal Phoca hispida botnica (Vulnerable; HELCOM Red list), and small population of harbour porpoise Phocaena phocaena (Critically Endangered; HELCOM Red list) (HELCOM, 2013; ICES, 2010b).
Reports suggest that fisheries bycatch amount to 0.5-0.8% of the porpoise population in the southwestern part of the Baltic Marine Area each year, and 1.2% of the porpoise population in the Kiel and Mecklenburg Bays and inner Danish waters. Estimates of the harbour porpoise population are uncertain, however, and the number of porpoises incidentally caught in fisheries is probably underestimated. Based on 2009 bycatch, indicates a bycatch rate of between 3.9% and 15.2% of the local population (ASCOBANS, 2012). The loss of porpoises to fishery in the Baltic Marine Area may be too high to sustain the population (ICES, 2008c, 2009c; HELCOM, 2009). Reliable data concerning sprat fisheries-related losses of harbour porpoises are not available. Trawls have little bycatch of marine mammals and seabirds. However, bycatch information on marine mammals and sea birds is poor (ICES, 2010d).
According to Dagys et al. (2009), trawlers do not cause any bycatch of birds or mammals in the offshore fishery in the Baltic Sea and Riga Gulf. However the gillnetters, especially the smaller ones that usually operate closer to the shore occasionally can have rather big number of birds in the nets. Bycatch of sea mammals is rare.
Last updated on 5 March 2014
Sprat is taken with a bycatch of herring to an extent that depends on season and area. This means that the fishing options for sprat should take account of the state of Baltic herring stocks, especially the central Baltic herring stock, as they overlap in distribution and fishing area. From 2005, EU vessels operating in the sprat and herring fishery are no longer allowed to land unsorted catches, unless there is a proper sampling scheme to monitor species composition. This is thought to have led to a reduction in the amount of misreported species (ICES, 2013a). Work is in progress to identify and quantify non-target species in the fishery (ICES, 2013b).
Sprat and herring are the main preys of Atlantic cod in the Baltic Sea and cod growth is limited by prey availability (ICES, 2013a).
Last updated on 7 March 2014
The fisheries for industrial purposes generally use pelagic or light bottom trawl and thus habitat impacts are low. In addition, there are demersal trawling activities for sprat in some parts of the Baltic. Sprat fishing is carried out all year round with the main fishing season in the first half of the year. The major sprat landings come from subdivisions 25-29 (open sea): about 85% of the landings in 2009. The Gulf of Finland accounted for about 9% mainly landed by Estonia and used for human consumption (Lassen, 2011).
The topography of the Baltic seafloor is diverse, with around 30% of its area composed by shallow areas (< 25m), interspersed by a number of deeper basins. Benthic communities of the hard substrates are dominated by mussels, while burrowing forms dominate on soft bottoms. Some coastal areas are also colonized by seaweeds and seagrasses, which serve as important nursery grounds for fish species (ICES, 2010b).
The main part of the sprat catches is taken by pelagic single and pair trawling (using a mesh size of 16 mm in the codend). In addition there are demersal trawling activities for Baltic sprat in some parts of the Baltic. There are no records of significant impacts of fishing activities on benthos in the Baltic Sea, although the negative impacts of bottom trawling on the sessile benthic fauna of hard substrates have been demonstrated (Callaway et al., 2007; ICES, 2008c).
Last updated on 07 Mar 2014
Measures are being taken to protect species and habitats in the Baltic Sea area, the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) has prepared a “Red List” of marine biotopes and biotope complexes. Additionally, 11% of the marine and coastal areas are currently being protectedby the network of Baltic Sea Protected Areas (BSPAs). However, protection is not equally distributed around all sub basins of the Baltic sea, and protection of offshore waters is still inadequate (HELCOM, 2010). Several projects have been developed to access the MPA and spatial planning in Baltic Sea (e.g. MPA in Eastern Baltic Sea, BaltSeaPlan, MARMONI and Hinrichsen). BALTFIMPA project aims to help countries to manage regional fisheries and the objectives of marine protected areas in the Baltic Sea (Helcom, 2014).
Proposed in 2011, new BSPA and the coverage of offshore waters and host habitats, aim to complete the network of marine protected areas in the Baltic Sea (FS, 2012).