Irish skippers meet scientists to discuss nephrops

MORE than 30 Irish skippers met representatives from the Marine Institute, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the IFPO and other associations on Tuesday to discuss the nephrops fishery on the Arran Grounds and recent gear trials.
Dr Paul Connolly, director of Fisheries and Ecosystem Services in the Marine Institute, said: ‘Nephrops are a key resource for Irish fishermen, as over the last five years the value of the landings at first sale has doubled to almost €50 million in 2014.
‘Sustaining the stocks and the quota is a key management priority for the industry and the
department.’
He also noted that it was positive to see scientists and so many active fishermen discussing issues together at the meeting, which was held at the Marine Institute’s headquarters in Oranmore.
The group heard presentations on the methodology and results of Marine Institute nephrops Underwater Television Surveys (UWTV) on the Aran Grounds and other areas by Jennifer Doyle, from the Marine Institute.
The latest ICES assessments and management advice for nephrops on the Aran Grounds was also
presented by Dr Colm Lordan, from the Marine Institute.
Dr Lordon said that ‘the assessments indicate that the stock size has declined to the lowest in the time series in 2014.
‘Although fishing effort in terms of number of boat and days fished on the Aran Grounds shows no long term trend since 1995, there has been an increase in both fishing power and efficiency with the increased uptake of quad rigs in the fishery’.
According to Dr Lordan, a combination of high landings and reduced recruitment has resulted in harvest rates in 2012-2013 being twice that recommended by ICES.
He further advocated ‘national measures to reduce catches and effort in the short term in advance of the 2015 UWTV survey were required. This would demonstrate responsible management and give the best chance for increased stock size in June’.
In response to this, Francis O’Donnell of the IFPO proposed that effort on vessels less than 20m would be limited to less than 20 days and effort for vessels larger than 20m would be limited to less than 10 days for the months of April and May. This was going to severely impact on some of his members.
David Kirwan of the IS&EPO suggested that effort for all vessels be limited to less than 40 days for the three month period April to June.
These proposals will be investigated by the Marine Institute to assess if they would be likely to deliver significant catch and effort reductions.