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Sardine capture. (Copyright: FIS)

ICES recommends 14pc Atlantic sardine catch cut

  (SPAIN, 7/22/2016)

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends that sardine (Sardina pilchardus) catches in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Atlantic waters must not exceed 12,000 tonnes in 2016.

This recommendation represents a 14.3 per cent cut compared to the 14,000 tonne maximum catch set by Spain and Portugal for this year under the management plan designed to recover the fishery.

In addition, ICES scientists say that if this measure is implemented, 2017 capture should not exceed 23,000 tonnes, which would represent a significant increase over this year, in which the maximum catch was reduced by 26 per cent.

According to ICES, biomass of over one year old sardines has decreased since 2006 and is around record low. In addition, recruitment has remained below the long-term average since 2005, and the fishing mortality has declined from a peak in 2011 and is at the lowest level of the time series.

Despite the small increase in abundance observed in the acoustic survey in 2016, the abundance of this pelagic resource remains low and their spatial distribution is uneven.

ICES report indicates that the spawning area has been reduced in recent years and is concentrated mainly in southern areas.

The stock and catches are dominated largely by young specimens with low reproductive potential. Therefore, scientists say that the survival of the annual entering classes until older ages may be important to improve the reproductive capacity of the population. This reinforces the need to maintain fishing mortality at low levels.

The report notes that national quotas and fishing effort limitations have contributed to fishing mortality reduction since 2011.

The sardine is not subject to the system of total allowable catches (TACs) implemented in the Atlantic, and limitations to extract the species have been agreed by Spain and Portugal.

Both countries set a maximum limit of sardine catches of 10,000 tonnes until July 31 this year, but the fishery regulation provides that the annual limit may be revised from that date.

The Spanish and Portuguese fishing secretaries recently met to discuss the status of the species, but have not released the details of the meeting, La Voz de Galicia informed.

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