Managing flyseine vessel pressure on demersal Non-Quota Species

Closed 16 Nov 2022

Opened 25 Aug 2022


The Fisheries White Paper, Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations, 2018 sets out the UK’s commitment to reshape fisheries management following our departure from the EU. Continuing to champion sustainable fishing and adopting management measures to rebuild and maintain stocks in the long term is central to future management.

Non-Quota Species (NQS) are stocks not subject to a Total Allowable Catch. They are often high value, potentially vulnerable and generally data poor species. The importance of NQS is recognised in the Government’s draft Joint Fisheries Statement where we highlight our intention to manage NQS in future through effort limits, fisheries closures, and technical measures. The JFS also sets out our intention to prioritise the development of management approaches for NQS domestically, through Fisheries Management Plans. This is complemented by our commitments to develop ‘multi-year strategies for the conservation and management of non-quota stocks’ under the UK/EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).

We have limited data on NQS, limited management and are therefore unable to accurately assess the health and sustainability levels of all NQS stocks that are targeted in English waters. The Fisheries Act sets out the precautionary objective in which the absence of sufficient scientific information is not used to justify postponing or failing to take management measures to conserve target species, associated or dependent species, non-target species or their environment. This consultation will assist in providing more data and also test the limited data (see Annex 1) we have so far.

We have heard significant concerns from the English inshore catching sector and NGOs over the last 18 months about the increasing efficiency of larger flyseine vessels and their impact on demersal NQS stocks. Flyseine vessels tow gear which touches the seabed; demersal fish inhabit the bottom of the sea. There are concerns in particular about the impact of these vessels on stocks such as red mullet, gurnard, and squid in the Channel and southern North Sea. We are seeking further evidence on the impact of current fishing activity on demersal species, including through the Channel Demersal NQS FMP process, but we are conscious of current pressures on the stocks and of not waiting to take action given concerns about the potential vulnerability of demersal NQS.

The proposals in this consultation relate to the impact of certain fishing vessel capacity in English waters. The proposals, in brief, focus on extending current measures (such as applying the 221kw restrictions for beam trawlers in the English 0-12nm to flyseine gear); and/or amending or reviewing existing restrictions (such as the 40mm mesh size derogation for directed squid fishery); and/or bringing in new measures (such as restricting fleet capacity or rope diameter and/or rope length for flyseine gear).

The expectation is that any new technical measures in English waters could come into effect during 2023.

Why your views matter

This consultation is an opportunity for you to help shape and influence NQS management policy in England for 2023 and beyond, and builds upon previous engagement with industry. 


What happens next

Defra considers that increased flyseining activity may be having a negative impact on NQS in English waters. If the responses to this consultation confirm this, Defra will consider what measures should be taken to alleviate this in the light of the consultation responses.  


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