Last updated on 30 May 2018
In 2017 the name of this sandeel management area was changed from Sandeel Area 3 to Sandeel Area 3r because of a change in the statistical rectangles included in the management area (ICES, 2017).
Since 2010, ICES has conducted stock assessments separately for each of the sandeel management areas in the North Sea. A seasonal age-based analytical model (SMS-effort), based on data from a a Danish dredge survey conducted in November/December and total international catch and fishing effort, is used for the assessment. In 2017, it was also included information from the acoustic survey index (2009–2016). This model assumes that fishing mortality is proportional to fishing effort (ICES, 2013b). This combination of the new assessment model “SMS-effort” with the specific area based approach is considered to have improved the quality of the assessments and has removed retrospective bias in estimated fishing mortality (F) and spawning stock biomass (SSB) for recent years (ICES, 2013).
In 2014 and 2015 occurred some misreporting of catches taken in SA 1, but reported to SA 3 (Central Eastern North Sea). The catches and fishing effort in SA 3 were revised based on information from VMS and previous catch distributions and ICES has reallocated a total of 44 000 tons in 2014 and 15,000 tons in 2015 from SA 3 to SA 1 (ICES, 2016). A northerly extension of the dredge survey area has been made in 2014 in cooperation between Denmark and Norway which lead to the increase of the quality of the survey index. The apparent differences in recruitment between the Norwegian EEZ and the rest of SA 3, the limited effort data available, uncertainty in age and length sampling, and assumptions made in natural mortality and maturity pattern estimates also add to uncertainty in the assessment (ICES, 2015). The 2016 survey index can be biased due the local high densities which could lead to stock overestimation. In-season monitoring (e.g. acoustic monitoring and age-based commercial cpue) is more precise and should continue in SA 3 (ICES, 2014a).
A stock assessment was undertaken in 2017 for this stock (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018) using a similar technique as other assessments in the recent past. In this most recent benchmark, the three-year natural mortality estimates from southern sandeel were used. Tuning indices from the Norwegian acoustic survey as well as the dredge survey were used.
Overall the model seemed to perform well, though there was a tendency to overestimate recruitment, compared to subsequent years; called a retrospective pattern. While the assessment is classified as uncertainty for ICES, it was deemed useable in providing management advice (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018)
Last updated on 30 May 2018
ICES’ advice has been based on a Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach for short-lived species (Escapement strategy), allowing for sufficient stock (MSY Bescapement) to remain for successful recruitment. Following the MSY approach, catches in 2016 should not exceed 74,176 tonnes, predicted to maintain the reproductive biomass (SSB) above the MSY Bescapement reference level in 2018. This approach results in F = 0.29 in 2017 that is a value below to the long-term average F and at the same level than the F ceiling defined by ICES. ICES recommended that management measures similar to those applied in the Danish fishery, should be taken to avoid similar misreporting in the future by other countries (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018).
For 2018 ICES has recommended a catch of 108,000 t (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018). Preliminary quota for Norway was recommended at 151,955 t for Skagerrak and Kattegat which encompasses areas 2r, 3r and 6r (IMR 2017) and for the EU at 0 t (EUR-Lex 2018). This was later revised to 8,699 t for area 3r by the EU (EUR-Lex 2018) and 70,000 t in Norway (NORGES SILDESALGSLAG 2018), bringing the total set quota to 78,699 and below advice.
ICES recommends that a joint EU–Norway management plan should be developed for SA 3 sandeel, including different options depending on the age structure of the stock (ICES, 2014a).
Biomass reference points:
The biologic reference points of this stock were revised in the most recent stock assessment benchmark
MSY Bescapement has been defined at 129,000 tonnes (Bpa). In 2015, ICES introduced a ceiling on Fishing mortality (F) level on the escapement strategy to ensure the ICES precautionary criterion (probability of Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) being below Blim is ≤ 5%) is met. The value of Fcap was revised during the benchmark and a new value was established (Fcap=0.29) (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018)
The lower limit biological reference point, Blim, has been defined at 80,000 tonnes, corresponding to the lowest SSB at which a high recruitment is observed. Bpa has been defined at 129,000 tonnes(ICES 2018)(ICES 2018).
Last updated on 30 May 2018
Since 2013, ICES bases the advice on the MSY approach, allowing for sufficient stock (MSY Bescapement) to remain for successful recruitment. This hasn’t prevented the stock from dropping to below Blim in 2013 and 2014 but according with the most recent estimates, this stock has been above biomass target reference point in the last four years (2015-2018).
The SSB in 2017 was estimated at 167,042 t (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018) well above the Blim of 80,000 t, but lower than 2016 vaule of ~236,000 t. While recruitment was strong in 2016, it was near record lows for 2017; indicating that the bulk of the removals will be coming from older fish in 2018. It is anticipated that SSB will increase further in 2018 to 339,762 as the large 2016-year class move through.
Both catch and fishing mortality have remained highly variable over the time series since 2006. In 2017 F was equal to 0.35, higher than Fcap of 0.29.