Whelk stocks now at risk from over-fishing

The Daily telegraph reports, 16th November 2014: “Scientists have warned that whelk stocks are at risk of running out as overfishing has seen the amount caught more than double over the last decade. Experts say regulations to protect them need to be tightened as it was revealed British vessels caught 19,000 tonnes last year — double the amount recorded 10 years ago.

 Photo: ALAMY

Photo: ALAMY

Scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) believe the minimum size at which they are allowed to be caught needs to be increased to safeguard stocks. Presently regulations ban whelks with shells under 45mm from being fished to protect the immature spawning stock but scientists say research has revealed that many whelks do not reach full maturity until they are larger.

Experts are warning that if regulations are not increased the future population of whelks could be affected.

“With evidence of increased fishing effort in most areas, there is now concern that whelk could be exploited at unsustainably high levels, which could lead to local or regional population crashes in important commercial fisheries,” CEFAS said.

It carried out a study examining more than 4,000 whelks taken from various sections of the British coastline. In half the cases the males had not reached maturity until their shells were larger and the majority of females had not reached maturity either.

CEFAS added: “At every sample site in this study, with the exception of Portsmouth, the size of maturity is larger than the minimum landing size, and the proportion that are mature at this size is virtually nil at most sites, which strongly suggests the the size regulation is doing very little to protect the spawning stock.

“If fishing activity is unchecked then there is a heightened risk to the ability of the stock to sustain itself, raising the possibility of localised stock depletion. Whelks are landed in large numbers meaning the minimum landing size is difficult to enforce, and results suggest that the current minimum landing size will do little to protect from overfishing of the spawning stock.

“If the minimum landing size is used as the sole tool for management of the whelk fisheries, this study indicates that an increase in the minimum landing size at either local or national level would be required to safeguard the spawning potential of the stocks.”

It said the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA), who has fishery management responsibility within six nautical miles of the coastline, are examining different management measures.

Source: The Daily Telegraph, 16th November 2014. For the full text, see: www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/11233126/Whelk-stocks-under-threat-from-overfishing.html

Please do share this

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS