For 2021 the workplan will address the three Principles:
1. Principle 1 Stock Management
2. Principle 2 Minimising Environmental Impact
3. Principle 3 Management System
Further details under each of the principles are given below:
Principle 1: Stock Management
A 2018 MSC pre-assessment found that in the Irish Sea, the Porcupine and the Labadie areas fishing mortality was at levels close to MSY but that in other areas including the Aran Grounds and the Smalls that fishing mortality levels were too high. The availability of data to enable the setting of harvest reference points was insufficient in some areas. The objective of the FIP for 2021 regarding Principle 1 is to progress efforts towards achieving levels of fishing consistent with MSY.
- In 2020, in collaboration with Marine Institute scientists, identify the main challenges to achieving MSY in the fishery and data gaps where industry data provision could assist.
- Set up a formal communication channel between the FIP and scientists so that the FIP has access to up to date information regarding issues such as fishing mortality levels across all Irish prawn stocks or functional units.
- Facilitate the development, with the fishing industry and Marine Institute scientists, of a program to enhance observer coverage levels and industry self-sampling initiatives in order to improve the quality of the scientific assessment.
- Collect data on observer trips and from an industry self-sampling program facilitated by FIP member vessels. Data collection in FU 16 (Porcupine) will be particularly emphasized due to the need for additional information on stock status there.
- Use the additional data collected to inform protection of stocks within individual functional units.
Principle 2: Environment
The MSC pre-assessment identified the poor stock status and high levels of bycatch of both Whiting in the Irish Sea and Cod in the Celtic Sea as problems for the prawn fishery under Principle 2. The objective of the FIP for 2021 regarding Principle 2 is to improve knowledge and develop a strategy to reduce bycatches of Irish Sea Whiting and Celtic Sea Cod in the prawn fishery. Further objectives are to work with the UK Nephrops FIP on the Irish Sea fishery which is common to both FIPs and to minimize the presence of plastic and other litter in the marine environment.
- Develop a program with the Irish fisheries development board (BIM) and the Marine Institute to collect baseline data on bycatches of Whiting and Cod in the prawn fishery.
- FIP member vessels will participate in gear trials with BIM and industry will be informed of trial results.
- Uptake of gears with favourable bycatch results will be encouraged and incentivized, where possible with assistance from BIM.
- Whiting and Cod bycatch monitoring programs will be updated annually to assess the impact of technical measures on bycatch reduction.
- FIP members will be encouraged to participate in the BIM Fishing For Litter/Clean Oceans initiative.
Principle 3: Management system
The MSC pre-assessment report identified one of the key problems under Principle 3 as the spatial inconsistency between scientific assessment and management with the associated risk of overfishing of individual functional units. The FIP will explore management approaches which will help to protect stocks in functional units. Previous proposals such as the North Sea Nephrops Long Term Management Plan will form a starting point. Approaches will be consistent with the North Western Waters Multi-Annual Plan.
P3 Objective: The objective of the FIP regarding Principle 3 is to investigate and encourage the implementation of the best potential management systems which could protect functional units within an area VII based approach.
In collaboration with industry, scientists and managers conduct an assessment of potential approaches to protecting functional units within an area VII based approach (November 2020 – December 2021).
Work with management entities nationally and regionally to encourage the adoption of a Functional Unit protection approach with the greatest agreed potential for success. (January 2022 – December 2022).
Monitor implementation progress of the Functional Unit protection approach with scientists examining aspects such as fishing mortality within individual Functional Units (January 2022 – December 2022).