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Safeguarding at-risk fisheries

The future of some low-impact inshore fisheries is under threat.  Non-quota stocks lack data, there is often little or no management of the larger offshore fleet targeting these fisheries, leading to uncontrolled over-fishing.  

Inshore small-scale fisheries are an important part of our heritage, coastal economies, and when well-managed, can provide a local and sustainable source of seafood.

The under 10 metre fleet makes up over 75 per cent of the active UK fishing fleet and predominantly target non-quota species such as whelk, crab, lobster and cuttlefish using static pots that have a much lower impact than the larger trawl and dredge fisheries. 

Yet the future of these low-impact inshore fisheries is under threat.  Many of the non-quota stocks are data-deficient, with little or no management of the larger offshore fleet that lands the majority of the catch, leading to uncontrolled over-fishing.  There is increasing concern amongst conservationists and the industry about declining stocks, overcrowding and gear conflict.  

Through the Safeguarding At-Risk Fisheries project, Blue Marine aims to identify the key fisheries that are at risk and propose management solutions before collapse.

Common Lobster

Caption: Common Lobster surrounded by Snakelocks anemones. Photo credit: Henley Spiers.

 

Cuttlefish

The first fishery that Blue Marine is focused on is cuttlefish. Not only does this species have fascinating characteristics including the ability to display over 34 billion body patterns, but they form a very important part of the mixed inshore fishery, particularly along the south coast of England where several ports are dependent on them.    

We extract species from the sea to sell but it doesn’t stop us from appreciating them as creatures as well and the cuttlefish is very charismatic”. Fisherman, Mudeford, Dorset 

cuttlefish

Caption: Common cuttlefish during spawning season. Photo credit: Henley Spiers.

Over 90 per cent of cuttlefish landings are caught by trawlers beyond 6 nautical miles with no limits on effort or landings – meaning they are often caught before they spawn and, with a short two-year life cycle, this can have significant impacts on population.   

 

Cuttlefish Symposium

Blue Marine convened a Cuttlefish Symposium in November 2021 bringing together over 120 attendees including fishermen, fisheries managers, government agencies, conservation groups and citizen scientists to share information about current cuttlefish stocks and fisheries.  This forms the foundation of a collaborative effort to identify effective measures to manage the fishery and safeguard cuttlefish populations and sustainable low-impact fisheries for the future.  

 

Watch Blue Marine’s short video to shine a light on these amazing animals and the need for better management to safeguard cuttlefish and sustainable fisheries: 

 

 

Gallery photo credits: Images [1 – 3] Henley Spiers and [4-7] Paul Naylor

Safeguarding at-risk fisheries

Key stats

Over 90 per cent of cuttlefish landings are caught by trawlers offshore  

How to help

By working together, we can turn the tide on overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity. By supporting BLUE, you can help to create marine reserves around the world.

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