There are no explicit management objectives for this stock; the European Community and Norway are currently discussing the joint management of this shared stock.
Management AdviceManagement considerations
A recently conducted fishery independent survey has indicated an increasing trend in biomass in areas VI and IV since 2005.
It has been noticed by ICES that the current EU-agreed TAC for Subarea IV and EC waters of Division IIa as well as the EU-Norway-agreed TAC for the Norwegian North Sea EEZ do not include Division IIIa: in Division IIIa there are apparently no internationally agreed management rules for anglerfish.
Information from several fisheries indicates that underreporting of total landings has been a problem in recent years due to restrictive individual vessel quotas. In 2005 the TACs of the North Sea Subarea VI were raised to countermand underreporting practices, but the extent to which this has resolved the reporting problems in this fishery is not known. However, the registration of buyers and sellers legislation should make it more difficult to make unreported landings of this species (and others). The legislation came into effect at the start of 2006. There has been increased enforcement on anglerfish quotas since 2006. This is expected to lead to improved data on total catches of anglerfish.
Estimates accounting for area misreporting indicate that the percentage of the catch from Division IIIa and Subarea IV, and from Divisions VIa and VIb in the years 1993–2002 averaged 60% and 40% respectively. In previous years, these proportions have been used to allocate TAC between these areas. The split in biomass between ICES Divisions IV and VI from recently developed surveys was approximately 55:45% in 2008, although the survey does not cover all of Division IV.
Recent attempts to identify anglerfish fisheries in Divisions IV and VI have shown that the majority of the catch of anglerfish stems from mixed trawl fisheries, catching sole, saithe, plaice, megrim, Nephrops
, haddock, and cod. While the landings value of anglerfish may constitute a high percentage of the total, the landings in weight tend to be only a relatively low percentage of the total. Optional effort restrictions aiming at promoting a recovery of these other species will have a side-effect for the anglerfish too, although a shift from anglerfish-poor areas to anglerfish-rich areas could negate this effect.
Ghost fishing and discarding of fish not suitable for consumption due to long soaking times are considered to be problems within some offshore gillnetting carried out by “flag-vessels” which target anglerfish in Subareas IV, VI, and VII. How effective the regulations (Council Regulation (EC) No 43/2009) on gear length and soak time have been in mitigating this phenomenon is unknown.
ICES previously advised a two-stage approach for management of the anglerfish fishery. The first stage was to substantially improve the quality and quantity of data collected on the fishery while maintaining exploitation at its current level. This first stage of data collection was expected to take at least five years, establishing useable time-series of fisheries-dependent and -independent data. This stage will be into its fifth year in 2009 and includes:
- dedicated Scottish and Irish industry/science anglerfish surveys from 2005-2008;
- a Scottish tallybook scheme (linked to a longer time-series of personal diaries) from 2006-2008;
The second stage would then be to use these data to examine alternative management approaches and harvest control rules appropriate to this fishery. ICES considers that the approach should continue, as it is expected to yield useful information in the medium term for the management of this stock.
The results from the surveys were considered by a recent workshop on anglerfish and megrim. It was concluded that the surveys could be used to provide information on changing stock size, for example in relation to European Commission’s position on Managing Fish Stocks without Catch Option TablesFactors affecting the fisheries and the stock