Last updated on 23 September 2016

SUMMARY

Summary

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Sprattus sprattus

SPECIES NAME(s)

European sprat

Sprat in the North Sea is treated as a single management stock, although some questions have been raised about the geographical distribution of this stock and its interaction with neighboring populations. (Debes et al. 2008) found that Gulf of Lyon and the Adriatic Sea populations have the “biggest genetic distance” within the Mediterranean and did not find any population differentiation between the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay. Genetic analysis by (Limborg et al. 2009) showed a clear genetic distinction from the NE Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea and a high differentiation of the Adriatic Sea population from all northern samples. More recently, (Limborg et al. 2012) consider the existence of a “complex population structure across the species’ distribution”. These results support the current ICES separation of sprat into three stocks, i.e. subdivision VIId (English Channel), subdivision IIIa (Skagerrak/Kattegat) and division IV (North Sea) (ICES 2013). But there is still some uncertainty as to the separation of the North Sea stock from peripheral populations. Local depletion of sprats is an issue of ecological concern, in particular for areas of the North Sea where there may be geographically or functionally discrete populations  (ICES 2013). Further research on the stock structure of sprat in the North Sea has been recommended, in order to establish the correct assessment/stock units in the area (ICES 2013).

Here we consider the existing assessment units (ICES 2013):

- Celtic Sea and West of Scotland in Subarea VI and Divisions VIIa–c and f–k 

- North Sea in Subarea IV

- Skagerrak and Kattegat in Division IIIa

- English Channel in Divisions VIId,e

- Baltic Sea in Subdivisions 22–32


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • The North Sea sprat stock remains in a good condition. An analytical assessment has been conducted since 2013; biomass reference points were defined in 2013, and in 2015 the fishing mortality reference point was revised to a more precautionary value.
  • Earlier publication of catch advice (in April for the approaching assessment year beginning July 1) should allow set TACs to be more easily adapted to fit the advice.
  • Since 2017, TAC are set for a period that coincides with the scientific year advise. This improved alignment between the advised and set TAC periods may facilitate improved compliance with the advice, and could help reduce fishing mortality to the target level.
  • Fisher compliance with set TACs is generally good, despite relatively small overages in 2014 and 2016. Management measures are in place to reduce misreporting and limit bycatch of other species, particularly juvenile herring.
  • Discards in recent years, for stock assessment purposes, are considered negligible, and the EU landing obligation in place (since early 2015), should facilitate continued low discarding.
  • Direct impacts of the fishery on sea mammals and birds is considered to be very low. 
Weaknesses
  • There are no explicit management objectives for this stock.
  • Fishing mortality (F) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 exceeded the Fmsy proxy, Fcap , (more than three times in 2016).
  • Stock structure is not completely understood.
  • Discards that occurred prior to EU landing obligations were in effect (2015) were unquantified, and thus cannot be accounted for in stock assessments.
  • There is a need for better documentation and quantification of discarding of target and non-target species through slippage.
  • Research on the indirect impacts of the fishery (i.e., by means of food web relationships) on other fish species, marine mammals and seabirds is still incomplete. 
  • Although the impact of purse seines and pelagic trawls in bottom habitats is typically assumed to be negligible, it remains to be tested in this specific fishery especially taking into account that the sea bottom might be impacted when fishing in shallow waters.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 6

Managers Compliance:

9.5

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

10

Future Health:

2.2


RECOMMENDATIONS

RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • Press for further scientific research to fully define stock structure to improve management.
  • Press regional advisory bodies, national fisheries administrations and the European Commission to develop a multi-species, ecosystem-based management plan for North Sea pelagic fisheries, including a harvest control rule(s).
  • Ensure that managers continue to set the TAC in line 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. 
  • Engage as a stakeholder in all MSC certifications for this stock and support the MSC Client groups to ensure all conditions attached to the Certifications are fully addressed.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • DFPO and DPPO North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat sandeel, sprat and Norway pout:

    MSC Certified

  • Norway sandeel, pout and north sea sprat:

    MSC Certified

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
North Sea EU Denmark Midwater trawls
Purse seines
Norway Midwater trawls
Purse seines
Small mesh bottom trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Strengths
  • The North Sea sprat stock remains in a good condition. An analytical assessment has been conducted since 2013; biomass reference points were defined in 2013, and in 2015 the fishing mortality reference point was revised to a more precautionary value.
  • Earlier publication of catch advice (in April for the approaching assessment year beginning July 1) should allow set TACs to be more easily adapted to fit the advice.
  • Since 2017, TAC are set for a period that coincides with the scientific year advise. This improved alignment between the advised and set TAC periods may facilitate improved compliance with the advice, and could help reduce fishing mortality to the target level.
  • Fisher compliance with set TACs is generally good, despite relatively small overages in 2014 and 2016. Management measures are in place to reduce misreporting and limit bycatch of other species, particularly juvenile herring.
  • Discards in recent years, for stock assessment purposes, are considered negligible, and the EU landing obligation in place (since early 2015), should facilitate continued low discarding.
  • Direct impacts of the fishery on sea mammals and birds is considered to be very low. 
Weaknesses
  • There are no explicit management objectives for this stock.
  • Fishing mortality (F) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 exceeded the Fmsy proxy, Fcap , (more than three times in 2016).
  • Stock structure is not completely understood.
  • Discards that occurred prior to EU landing obligations were in effect (2015) were unquantified, and thus cannot be accounted for in stock assessments.
  • There is a need for better documentation and quantification of discarding of target and non-target species through slippage.
  • Research on the indirect impacts of the fishery (i.e., by means of food web relationships) on other fish species, marine mammals and seabirds is still incomplete. 
  • Although the impact of purse seines and pelagic trawls in bottom habitats is typically assumed to be negligible, it remains to be tested in this specific fishery especially taking into account that the sea bottom might be impacted when fishing in shallow waters.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 13 September 2018

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Press for further scientific research to fully define stock structure to improve management.
  • Press regional advisory bodies, national fisheries administrations and the European Commission to develop a multi-species, ecosystem-based management plan for North Sea pelagic fisheries, including a harvest control rule(s).
  • Ensure that managers continue to set the TAC in line 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. 
  • Engage as a stakeholder in all MSC certifications for this stock and support the MSC Client groups to ensure all conditions attached to the Certifications are fully addressed.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 12 July 2018

In 2012, this stock was considered a data-limited stock and advice was given based only on the development in the survey indices. The 2013 ICES assessment, the first analytical assessment for this stock since 2008, was a marked improvement over previous assessments. The assessment proposed during the benchmark in February 2013 (ICES 2013b) introduced a new model  (Stochastic Multi-species (SMS) model with quarterly time-steps). Consistent with the past several years, the latest (2018) assessment (considered an update) includes three survey indices (IBTS Q1&3, HERAS), commercial catches (international landings, ages and length frequencies from catch sampling), annual maturity data from IBTS Q1 survey and natural mortalities from the multispecies model (ICES 2018). In 2013, to better match the sprat life-cycle, ICES changed the assessment year from January–December to July–June (ICES 2014a). This change was intended to facilitate more biologically coherent stock assessment.

The assessment shows high CVs for the catches but lower CVs for surveys. This may be due to low sampling effort in several years in spite of substantial catches taken. The CVs of F, SSB and recruitment are in general low (ICES 2018). The model converged and fitted the catches of the main ages caught in the main quarters (the periods with most samples) reasonably well. The CV of survey observations are in general lower. The assessment substantially overestimates large incoming yearclasses (ICES 2018). Retrospective patterns is strong (ICES 2018)

Discarding that occured in the years prior to the EU landing obligation (2015) was unquantified and thus cannot be included in stock assessments (ICES 2015a, 2015b). Discards of sprat since 2016 are assumed to be negligible (ICES 2018)

Stock assessment advice under the MSY escapement and Fcap strategy (see "Scientific Advice" section below) requires post-fishery predictions of spawning stock biomass (SSB). The sprat stock in the North Sea is dominated by young fish; and stock size is driven primarily by the recruiting year class. Thus, the fishery in a given year will be dependent on that year’s incoming year class (ICES 2015b). Unknown abundance and maturity rates for a high proportion of recruits regularly contribute to uncertainty in overall recruitment estimates and SSB predictions. High recruitments and SSB estimated in recent years have been revised downward in subsequent assessments (ICES 2016) (ICES 2017) (ICES 2018)

This fishery is under the mandates of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which require management of the fishery’ ecosystem effects. In the North Sea, the key predators consuming sprats are included in the stock assessment, which uses Stochastic Multi-species (SMS) methodology to estimate sprat consumption for each predatory fish stock, and likewise for seabirds (ICES 2015b). These estimates are used as model inputs to derive stock assessment reference points and corresponding advice. By Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment standards, this approach is considered to qualify as a “partial strategy” to prevent serious or irreversible harm to ecosystem structure and function (Rice et al. 2017). However, there is a related condition (see "ETP Species" section below). Meanwhile, stock assessments historically have not attempted to measure impacts of changes in zooplankton communities and consequent changes in food densities for sprats (i.e. bottom up effects); and ICES has recommended that there may be value in exploring this dynamic in future assessments (ICES 2015b).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 12 July 2018

ICES utilizes particular strategies for short-lived fish stocks, for which future stock size is very dependent on incoming recruitments, which in turn are often the main or only component of the fishable stock (ICES 2014c).  Their typical approach for these cases is aimed at achieving target escapement, MSY Bescapement, the amount of biomass left to spawn.  For particularly sensitive species, recruitment often cannot be reliably estimated until very close to the time of the fishery; and to address this ICES has prescribed an adaptive framework, where a preliminary and very conservative TAC is first set, and then adjusted (typically much higher) following a later assessment of the stock size.  In cases where recruitment information is poor, as for North Sea sprat, ICES has found an additional measure - an upper constraint to the escapement strategy derived fishing mortality (termed "Fcap") - necessary to guard against very high exploitation. Based on evaluations made in late 2013, ICES determined this necessary to ensure precautionary exploitation of the North Sea sprat stock, and set an intitial Fcap  at 1.2 (ICES 2014a). In 2015, the use of new natural mortalities in the assessment resulted in the long-term geometric mean of recruitment being revised downwards. This implied also reducing the target fishing mortality (Fcap) from 1.2 to 0.7 (ICES 2015a).

ICES’ advice applies for the assessment year (1 July – 30 June), while management total allowable catch (TAC) has followed the calendar year (but note recent developments in this regard - see “Manager’s s Decisions” below). ICES has previously provided guidance for within-year adjustments to the TAC (ICES 2014a, 2016a). In 2017, ICES moved to an accelerated release of their advice (from June 30 to April) (ICES 2017) so that TAC adjustments could be made in advance of fishing (Rice et al. 2017). Based on the MSY approach, ICES advises that catches of sprat for the 2018-19 period should be no more than 177,545 tonnes (ICES 2018)

ICES’ additional recommendations for this fishery are: a) A management plan needs to be developed (ICES 2016b); b) Bycatch allocation must be monitored and management measures should consider sprat in other areas (ICES, 2012b, 2015b, 2016b); c) Management measures that address the bycatch of juvenile herring should be revisited and management of this stock should consider management advice given for herring in Subarea IV, Division VIId, and Division IIIa (ICES 2015b, 2016b); d) Given the importance of sprat as a forage fish, multispecies considerations should be made. ICES has been taking steps to gradually start providing multispecies advice on fisheries for some ecosystem (ICES 2013c; ICES 2017b). A final note in the 2017 advice (ICES 2017) cautions that the catch of sprat under quotas for other species (e.g. herring) (resulting from quota transfers allowed under the EU landing obligation) may result in overexploitation of North Sea sprat. To account for this risk, ICES advises that any transfers under this regulation should be accounted for in the set TAC.

European sprat in North Sea stock was benchmarked in 2013  (ICES 2013) (ICES 2013b), and reference points defined (ICES 2014a). Current reference points for this stock are as follows:

ParameterValueTechnical basis
MSY Bescapement142,000 t=Bpa in conjuntion with Fcap
Fcap(*)0.7based on the Bescapement strategy, with an additional constraint on fishing mortality (ICES 2015a)
FMSYnot defined 
Blim90,000 tset to ensure years of good recruitment occurred when SSB was above Blim, and years of poor recruitment occurred only when SSB was below Blim
Bpa142,000 t“=Blim × exp (σ × 1.645), with σ = 0.28 estimated from assessment uncertainty in the terminal year (ICES, 2013).”
FlimNot defined 
FpaNot defined 

(*) The MSY proxy Fishing mortality reference point was revised in 2014 and then 2015.

The stock will be benchmarked again in 2018 (ICES 2018).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 12 July 2018

The 2018 stock assessment (ICES 2018) finds the stock in good condition. Sprat stock size largely depends on recruitment year classes, resulting in high inter-annual variations in spawning stock biomass (SSB) along the historical series (ICES 2016b). Owing to a series of below average recruitments, estimated SSB showed a decreasing trend from 2010 to 2012, when it reached the biomass limit reference point (Blim) (ICES 2018). SSB has been above MSY Bescapement since 2013, and it is estimated to have increased from 286,932 tons in 2017 to 408,808 in 2018 (ICES 2018).  Recruitment is estimated to have been above average for the past several years, and in 2017 is estimated to be the highest of the last 40 yr; however there is a high degree of uncertainty with this estimate. Fishing mortality (F) has sharply increased over the past several years to a level significantly above the precautionary limit, especially in 2016. During the current period (July 2017 to June 2018) F is estimated to be 1,72, more than double the advised Fcap (0,70). In 2017, catches were estimated at 128,316 tonnes which represents a reduction of 50% with respect to previous year (ICES 2018)

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 12 July 2018

The directed sprat fishery currently is regulated via a number of management measures, including catch quotas (or TACs), fishing seasons, and by-catch limits (e.g., juvenile herring). However, there are still no explicit management objectives for this stock (ICES 2018), and while ICES considers the within-year TAC setting rule (Bescapement with an Fcap) to be precautionary and consistent with the ICES MSY approach (ICES, 2014a) (ICES 2017) (ICES 2018), recent excesses in the set TAC and corresponding fishing mortality rates highlight the hazards imposed by management’s lack of commitment to a “medium term” management plan (Rice et al. 2017). A related condition was raised as part of the recent MSC certification of the Danish fishery (Rice et al. 2017). Under this condition, it was expected that "by the 4th annual audit, well-defined harvest control rules, that are consistent with the harvest strategy and ensure that the exploitation rate is reduced as limit reference points are approached", be in place. The issue of TAC effectiveness also has implications for dependent predator species, including some ETP species, and this concern is captured in a separate MSC condition (see "ETP Species" section below).

Following a period in the early 2000s, where TACs were set well above the limit recommended by scientists, and up to 2009, TACs were generally in line with ICES’ advice(ICES 2017). In 2012, the TAC was set at  162,000 tonnes (ICES, 2012b), i.e., well above ICES recommendation of 134,000 tonnes. During years from 2013 to 2016, set TACs were established for different annual periods than that of the scientifically advised catch limits (management set TACS were established for the period from January-December, whereas advice was given for the period from July to June) (ICES 2013) (Rice et al. 2017).  This misalignment does not facilitate straight-forward assessment of the agreement between advised and established catch limits; but the discernable pattern during this period suggests mixed conformity to advised limits. The set TAC for 2014 (144,000 tonnes; calendar year) was well below what ICES recommend for the period July–December 2014 (191,000 tonnes; based on the 2014 assessment and the historical in-year distribution of catches) (ICES 2014a). By the same measure, the TAC in 2015 was also relatively conservative. However, the set TAC for 2016, following an in-year revision, was nearly twice ICES’ advised total 2016-2017 TAC; and official landings for the same period were estimated to be more than double the advice (ICES 2017).  For 2017-18, the set Total Allowable Catch (TAC) (amended in July 2017) was effective for the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 (Council Regulation (EC) 2017);  marking the first time since 2013 that the management period has aligned with the assessment year and applicable scientific advice. While the set TAC (175,411 tons) slightly exceeded the advised catch (170,387 tons; 3.5% over), the change to the effective TAC year conforms to the recommendation of ICES  to align the TAC period “to ensure exploitation is consistent with stock status” (ICES 2014a, 2015a). 

For 2018-2019, the European Council set a preliminary zero TAC in January (European Commission 2018) but an amendment is expected to be published in July 2018 with an adjusted TAC. 

As Sprat in Subarea IV is mainly fished together with juvenile herring, the exploitation of sprat is limited by the herring bycatch restrictions imposed on the fisheries (bycatch ceiling for herring and the herring bycatch percentage limit in industrial fisheries). In the Norwegian North Sea sprat fishery, there is a maximum bycatch limit of 10% herring (ICES 2013), 2013b, 2016b). Norway’s pelagic trawlers and purse-seiners fish in EU waters of Subarea IV with quotas negotiated between EU and Norway (10,000 tonnes allocated to Norway in 2017)(Council Regulation (EC) 2017). A maximum vessel quota of 550 tonnes when fishing in the EU zone is also in place (ICES 2015b, 2016b). For the European Union (EU) fleet, herring bycatch in the directed sprat fisheries has also been restricted via bycatch quotas – 15,744 tonnes in 2015 (COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2015/104), 13,382 tonnes in 2016 (COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2016/72), 11,375 tonnes in 2017 (COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2017/127) and 9,669 in 2018 (European Commission 2018).

Norway has had a discard ban (or landing obligation) in force since 1983 (NMTIF 2015). For the EU, a landing obligation was put in place in 2013 as part of the recent Common Fisheries Policy reform. The landing obligation applies to all fisheries (i.e., EU fleet or fisheries operating in EU waters) subject to catch limits or minimum landing landing sizes (in the case of the Mediterranean), and is to be implemented gradually on a fishery-by-fishery basis from 2015 to 2019. In the case of the small pelagic or fisheries for industrial purposes (e.g., fisheries for mackerel, herring, horse mackerel, blue whiting, boarfish, anchovy, sandeel, sardine and sprat), the landing obligation has been effective since January 2015, across all EU waters (Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013; Regulation (EU) No 2015/104). A herring by-catch of up to 10% in biomass is allowed in Norwegian sprat catches (ICES 2018)

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 12 July 2018

Historically, the sprat fishery has been limited by bycatch limits of other species (e.g., herring), and generally sprat landings have remained well below the respective quotas. Landings in 2012 and 2013, represented 50% or less of the set TAC. However, official catches in 2014 (157,000 tonnes) and 2016 (255,513 tonnes) exceeded the TAC by 9% and 4% respectively (ICES 2015a, 2015b) (ICES 2017). In 2017, ICES estimated landings for July-December (122,680 tons) represented 70% of the set TAC for the period 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018 (176,411 tons) (ICES 2018). This means that 30% of the TAC could be taken in the first half of 2018; however, most of the catches of European sprat in the North Sea are typically taken in the second half each year (86% in 2016; 83% in 2015) (ICES 2018), meaning that we could expect that, by the end of June 2018, compliance with set TAC will not represent a problem. 

Prior to 2015 discarding in the sprat fishery in the North Sea, of both sprat and bycatch species, was known to take place but could not be quantified. Since 2015, and the implementation of EU landing obligations, discards of sprat been assumed to be negligible (ICES 2017). Discarding in this fishery is considered to be related primarily to the bycatch limits on herring. If the bycatch percentage of herring is exceeded in a haul, the haul is not taken and this may be regarded as slippage/discarding. Currently, herring bycatch is considered a problem particularly in ICES area IVc, even though currently only data from the Danish fleet is available; in this fleet, herring bycatch has been generally less than 10% of total catch (ICES 2015b). As a condition of the 2017 MSC certification of the fishery, it is required that “by the 4th annual audit there must be positive evidence that slipping is not occurring in the sprat and Norway pout fisheries. This information should be sufficient to act as qualitative information and some quantitative information available on the amount of main bycatch species (herring) taken by the sprat and Norway pout fisheries.” (Rice et al. 2017). To avoid misreporting, Norwegian vessels can only operate in the Norwegian zone after the EU-quota is fully taken and cannot fish between April and July in the EU and Norwegian zones (ICES 2012a).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 12 July 2018

A comprehensive list and map of threatened or declining species and habitats in the North-East Atlantic, including the North Sea region, is available from OSPAR.  According to a MSC assessment (Rice et al. 2017), the most relevant ETP species potentially exposed to the fishery are: harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), grey seal (Halichoerus grypus), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), minke whale (Balaneroptera acutorostrata), black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactlyla), roseate tern (Sterna dougalli), common skate (Dipturus batis), spotted ray (Raja montagui), thornback ray (Raja clavata) and starry ray (Amblyraja radiata).

The direct effects of the fishery are broadly understood to be negligible through information, though not verifiable, on direct impact available from code of conduct logbook reporting (Rice et al. 2017). Purse seines have the potential to catch mammals, although a report for ASCOBANS gave no indication of any cetacean bycatch in the North Sea (Northridge 2011). Direct interaction with birds is almost negligible as the catch is pumped directly from the trawl/seine into the haul. Besides, fishing occurs too far from the colonies of roseate tern to have direct impact on this species (Rice et al. 2017). The European Union Council Regulation 23/2010  requires that all catches of rays and skates must be reported separately (European Commission 2010). Although rays can be potentially caught by this fishery, there are no reports of bycatch of rays meaning that those catches are really small and escape registration  or that they are being discarded which is very unlikely due to the absence of sorting devices in the vessels (Rice et al. 2017). All ETP populations are monitored through population estimates and for seabirds, through monitoring of breeding sucess.

Indirect effects may occur through competition between some of ETP species described above (e.g. porpoise, minke whales, seals…) and the fishery, but these are accounted for in the management (i.e. increasing the natural mortality) through escapement to ensure sufficient food for relevant ETP species (see Ecosystem section for further details).

All ETP species are covered by the requirements of the Habitats Directives that states that Member States shall establish a system to monitor the incidental capture and killing on animal species listed […] and take further research or conservation measures as required to ensure that incidental capture and killing does not have a significant negative impact on the species concerned [...]. Main management tools to reduce interaction with ETP species are the fishing gears themselves that are unlikely to catch ETP species, and harvest limits as determined from multi-species modeling (see Ecosystems section). A comprehensive management strategy has not been developed by the fishery for any of the ETP species. 

Other Species

Last updated on 12 July 2018

Bycatch is assessed in two ways: by self-reporting in electronic logbooks and by official sampling. Both procedures are fairly uncertain but generally report low catches of non-target species. There is however, significant discrepancy between logbooks and official landings data (Rice et al. 2017).

Most sprat catches are taken in an industrial fishery where catches are limited by herring by-catch quantities. By-catches of herring are practically unavoidable except in years with high sprat abundance or low herring recruitment. By-catch is especially considered to be a problem in area 4.c (ICES 2018). The total amount of herring caught as by-catch in the Danish sprat fishery has typically been less than 10% except in 2012 (11%) and 2008 (11%) (ICES 2018).

This fishery operates under the landing obligation where all fish have to be landed since 1st January 2015 (European Commission 2013). The only way to discard bycatch is by slipping the entire haul, as on board sorting devices are not allowed. The only species where slipping could be considered an option is herring, because it acts as a choke species. In the sprat fishery, up to 9% of a catch of herring can be written off on the sprat quota, as a disincentive to slippage (ICES 2017). According to herring assessment, F<Fmsy and B>Bmsy and biomass is increasing. Levels of slipping are not quantified (Rice et al. 2017).

HABITAT

Last updated on 12 July 2018

Detailed maps of North Sea habitats are available (Schlüter and Jerosch 2009)(EMODnet), including maps of threatened habitats by OSPAR (link).

The fishery is conducted with mid-water trawls and purse seines. These gears do not normally touch the bottom except when the fishery is conducted in shallow waters. Therefore, some bottom impact cannot be ruled out completely, and it can damage fragile habitats such as corals or sponges(Donaldson et al. 2010). However, the specific impact of the fishing gears in shallow waters has not been evaluated in this fishery.

Marine protected areas are the main management tool in place to protect bottom habitats. The OSPAR Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Network (map) is expanding (from 159 MPAs in 2010 to 448 in 2016) and now covers 5.9% of the OSPAR maritime area (14.7% of the Greater North Sea Area) (OSPAR 2017). Most MPAs are established within waters under national jurisdiction (200 nautical miles) in the North Sea and Eastern Channel, however few but large marine protected areas have been created in the high seas in the last years (OSPAR, 2018).

In 1998 and area off the western coast of Denmark was closed (from October to March) to the sprat fishery to protect spawning of herring caught as bycatch of the sprat fishery (Article 21(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 850/98) (European Commission 1998).  ICES evaluated the effectiveness of the sprat box in 2017 (ICES 2017). The evaluation concluded that fishing inside the sprat box would be expected to reduce unwanted catches of herring (by weight) and that other management measures are sufficient to control herring bycatch. The sprat box was removed in 2017 (European Commission 2017).

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 9 May 2018

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

A number of management measures are in place (including fishing seasons, catch quotas, juvenile herring bycatch limits) to protect the NS sprat stock and other captured species, and reference points were defined in 2013 (ICES 2015a). However, there is still no specific management plan for this fishery, and no specific target fishing mortality is established at the management level. While catch advice incorporates reference points that in the past have guided management decisions so as to effectively function as harvest controls, lack of well defined formal harvest control rules is cause for concern. Catches in excess of the advice have resulted in estimated fishing mortality (F) well over the Fcap reference point in the past three years (more than three times greater in 2016).

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is 9.5.

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

The Set TAC is 175 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 170 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 103%.

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is 10.0.

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

The Landings is 123 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 175 ('000 t) .

The underlying Landings/Set TAC for this index is 69.9%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2018 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the SSBpa.

The SSB is 409 ('000 t). The SSBpa is 142 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/SSBpa for this index is 288%.

As calculated for 2017 data.

The score is 2.2.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F management target.

The F is 1.72 (age-averaged). The F management target is 0.700 .

The underlying F/F management target for this index is 245%.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low

This indicates the potential risk of human rights abuses for all fisheries operating within this stock or assessment unit. If there are more than on risk level noted, individual fisheries have different levels. Click on the "Select Scores" drop-down list for your fisheries of interest.

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
  • There is no fishing mortality at low biomass defined thus score 1 was qualitatively determined.
  • During years from 2013 to 2016, set TACs were established for different annual periods than that of the scientifically advised catch limits (management set TACS were established for the period from January-December, whereas advice was given for the period from July to June) (ICES 2013) (ICES 2017).  Because these two sets of quantities were not directly comparable in those years, FishSource scores for the management compliance criterion was qualitatively determined.  However, in 2017, ICES began releasing their advice earlier (April rather than June 30) (Rice et al. 2017), making it possible for management to make pre-season TAC adjustments (an estimated 84% of the catch is taken from July-December).  In July of 2017, an amended TAC established allowable catches effective for July 2017 - June 2018 (Council Regulation (EC) 2017), thus bringing the advised and established catch period into alignment. Consequently, calculation of a quantitative score has been allowed for the FishSource management criterion this year.
  • Catches are official catches for calendar year (i.e., from January to December).
  • Score about fishers compliance for year 2018 is tentatively based on offical catches from July-December 2017, and set TAC for the period July 2017-June 2018. It is therefore overestimated as catches for the period January-June 2018 are not included. However, ICES estimated catches for the period July-December 2017 were 122,680 tons, which represents 70% of the TAC for 2017-2018. This means that 30% of the TAC could be taken in the first half of 2018; however, most of the catches of European sprat in the North Sea are typically taken in the second half each year (86% in 2016; 83% in 2015), meaning that we could expect that, by the end of June 2018, catches will not exceed set TAC and therefore score will not change
  • Fishing mortality is represented as the estimated annual average for ages 1-2.
  • The biomass target (Bpa) is MSY proxy “Bescapement”, as defined for ICES’ harvest strategy for short-lived species (ICES 2010); which is aimed at achieving adequate escapement for spawning.
  • The F management target here is taken as the defined reference point “Fcap”. Fcap is an upper fishing mortality limit, which puts an additional constraint on the fishing mortality derived from the MSY Bescapement strategy, so that realized F should never exceed Fcap (ICES 2014c).  This constraint would come into play in years when post-fishing biomass is projected to be high relative to Bescapement (Rice et al. 2017).
  • Biomass (SSB) for 2017 was estimated based on the average mean weight (2014-2016) and maturity (2007–2016) (ICES 2017)

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

DFPO and DPPO North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat sandeel, sprat and Norway pout

STATUS

MSC Certified on 17 March 2017

SCORES

  Sandeel Sprat  Pout  
Principle Trawl   Trawl     Purse seines

Trawl

Principle 1 - Target Species 82.3 84.4 81.3
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 82.3 82.3 85.0 82.3
Principle 3 - Management System 87.5

Certification Type: Silver

Sources

Credits
  1. Brown, C., Mackinson, S., 2013. MSC Low Trophic Level Project: North Sea Ecosim. Marine Stewardship Council Science Series 1: 2 – 18 http://www.msc.org/business-support/science-series/documentlibrary_search_result?keywords=north+sea&subject=Any%2FAll&publication=Any%2FAll&dlsubmit=search
  2. Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), 2001. Technical report (TR_003) produced for Strategic Environmental Assessment – SEA2, 72 pp.http://www.cefas.co.uk/media/20461/tr_003.pdf
  3. COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2015/104 of 19 January 2015 fixing for 2015 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union vessels, in certain non-Union waters, amending Regulation (EU) No 43/2014 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 779/2014. 163 pp.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32015R0104&from=EN
  4. COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2016/72 of 22 January 2016 fixing for 2016 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters, and amending Regulation (EU) 2015/104. 165 pp.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0072&from=EN
  5. COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2017/127 of 20 January 2017 fixing for 2017 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32017R0127&from=EN
  6. European Council (EC), 2012. Council Regulation (EU) No 44/2012 of 17 January 2012 fixing for 2012 the fishing opportunities available in EU waters and, to EU vessels, in certain non- EU waters for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks which are subject to international negotiations or agreements.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:025:0055:0147:EN:PDF
  7. FIRMS (Fishery Resources Monitoring System). 2006. Marine Resource Fact Sheet. Stock Status Report: Sprat - North Sea. 2006. Sprat in the North Sea (Sub-area IV)http://firms.fao.org/firms/resource/10387
  8. Haelters, J & Camphuysen, K. C.J., undated. The harbour porpoise in the southern North Sea: Abundance, threats and research- & management proposals. International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). 57 pp.http://www.ifaw.org/Publications/Program_Publications/Whales/asset_upload_file741_55396.pdf
  9. ICES, 2003. Environmental Status of The European Seas. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.http://www.ices.dk/reports/germanqsr/23222_ICES_Report_samme.pdf
  10. ICES, 2006a. ICES ADVICE 2006. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management.http://www.ices.dk/products/icesadvice/2006/ICES%20Advice%202006%20Book%206.pdf
  11. ICES, 2006b. ICES-FishMap. Sprat-Sprattus sprattus. Family Clupidae.http://www.ices.dk/marineworld/fishmap/ices/pdf/sprat.pdf
  12. ICES, 2007a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management. Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment and Advisory Committee on Ecosystems. ICES Advice 2007. Book 6. North Seahttp://www.ices.dk/products/icesadvice/2007/ICES%20ADVICE%202007%20Book%206.pdf
  13. ICES, 2007b. ICES HAWG Report 2007. Sprat in the North Seahttp://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2007/HAWG/08-Sprat%20in%20the%20North%20Sea.pdf
  14. ICES, 2007c. Report of the Advisory Committee, 2007, Book 6, Sprat in the North Sea (Subarea IV). 5p.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2007/may/Spr-nsea.pdf
  15. ICES, 2008a. 6.4.20 Sprat in the North Sea (Subarea IV) ICES Advice 2008. Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2008/2008/spr-nsea.pdf
  16. ICES, 2008b. ICES ADVICE 2008. Ecosystems. 2008. Book 6. North Sea Ecosystem Overview.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2008/2008/6.1-6.2%20North%20Sea%20ecosystem%20overview.pdf
  17. ICES, 2008c. ICES HAWG (Herring Assessment Working Group) Report 2008. Sprat in the North Sea. http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2008/HAWG/Sec-08%20Sprat%20in%20the%20North%20Sea.pdf
  18. ICES, 2009a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2009, Book 6, Sprat in Subarea IV (North Sea). In-year Advice. 5p. http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2009/2009/spr-nsea.pdf
  19. ICES, 2009b. Report of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62 N, 17-25 March 2009, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen. Diane Lindemann. 648 pp. http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2009/HAWG/HAWG09.pdf
  20. ICES, 2010. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2010, Book 6, 6.4.18 Sprat in Subarea IV (North Sea). In-year Advice. 5p. http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2010/2010/spr-nsea.pdf
  21. ICES, 2011a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 6: The North Sea 6.4.8 Ecoregion: North Sea; Stock: Sprat in Subarea IV (North Sea). Advice summary for 2012, 5 pp. http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2011/2011/spr-nsea.pdf
  22. ICES, 2011b. Report of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the area South of 62 deg N, 16 - 24 March 2011, 763 pp. http://www.ices.dk/reports/ACOM/2011/HAWG/HAWG%20Report%202011.pdf
  23. ICES, 2012a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 6: The North Sea 6.4.8 Ecoregion: North Sea; Stock: Sprat in Subarea IV (North Sea). Advice summary for 2013, 5 pp.http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2012/2012/spr-nsea.pdf
  24. ICES, 2012b. Report of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62 N (HAWG), 13 - 22 March 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2012/ACOM:06, 835 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2012/HAWG/HAWG%202012.pdf
  25. ICES, 2013b. Report of the Benchmark Workshop on Sprat (WKSPRAT), 11–15 February 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2013/ACOM:48. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2013/WKSPRAT%202013/wksprat_2013.pdf
  26. ICES, 2013c. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 6: North Sea.6.3.1. Multispecies considerations for the North Sea stocks. June 2013. 9pp http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2013/2013/spr-nsea_201305211647.pdf
  27. ICES, 2014a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 6: North Sea. 6.3.30 Sprat in Subarea IV (North Sea). Advice summary Advice for July 2014 - June 2015. 9 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/spr-nsea.pdf
  28. ICES, 2014b. Report of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62ºN (HAWG), 11-20 March 2014, ICES HQ, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:06. 1257 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2014/HAWG/01%20HAWG%20Report%202014.pdf
  29. ICES, 2014c. Report of the Workshop to consider reference points for all stocks (WKMSYREF2), 8-10 January 2014 ICES HQ, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:47. 99 pp. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2014/WKMSYREF2/01%20WKMSYREF2.pdf
  30. ICES, 2015a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee. Book 6: Greater North Sea Ecoregion. 6.3.49 Sprat (Sprattus sprattus) in Subarea IV (North Sea). Advice summary for July 2015 - June 2016. 8 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/spr-nsea.pdf
  31. ICES, 2015b. Report of the Herring Assessment Working Group for the Area South of 62ºN (HAWG), 10-19 March 2015, ICES HQ, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2015/ACOM:06. 850 pp.http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2015/HAWG/01%20HAWG%20Report%202015.pdf
  32. ICES, 2016a. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort. Greater North Sea Ecoregion. 6.3.51 Sprat (Sprattus sprattus) in Subarea 4 (North Sea). Advice summary for July 2016 – June 2017. 8 pp. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/spr-nsea.pdf
  33. ICES, 2016b. 10 HAWG Report 2016 - Sec 08 Sprat in the North Sea. pp 531-589. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2016/HAWG/10%20HAWG%20Report%202016%20-%20Sec%2008%20Sprat%20in%20the%20North%20Sea.pdf
  34. ICES 2017b. Working Group on Mixed Fisheries Advice [online] Accessed April 3, 2017. http://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGMIXFISH.aspx
  35. OSPAR Commission, 2008. Case Reports for the OSPAR List of threatened and/or declining species and habitats, 261 pp.http://qsr2010.ospar.org/media/assessments/p00358_case_reports_species_and_habitats_2008.pdf
  36. REGULATION (EU) No 1380/2013 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC. 40 pp.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:354:0022:0061:EN:PDF
  37. Tasker, M. L., Camphuysen, C. J. (Kees), Cooper, J., Garthe, S., Montevecchi, W. A., Blaber, S. J. M., 2000. The impacts of fishing on marine birds. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57: 531–547.http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/57/3/531.full.pdf
  38. The Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI), 2001. Marine protected areas in the North Sea. Briefing Paper 1, Fisheries Society of the British Isles, 19 pp. http://www.fsbi.org.uk/assets/brief-marine-protect-refs.pdf
  39. The Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI), 2004. Effects of fishing on biodiversity in the North Sea. Briefing Paper 3, Fisheries Society of the British Isles, 19 pp.http://www.fsbi.org.uk/assets/brief-biodiversity-north-sea-refs.pdf
References

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