Whelk Research 2016

Devon & Severn IFCA Whelk Research 2016

Over the last few years, Devon & Severn IFCA has undertaken research on the whelk fishery within its district.  This research consisted of taking whelk catch samples from vessels fishing in three locations within the district and analysing these samples to determine the size at which 50% of the whelk population from these areas reaches sexual maturity (known as the size of sexual maturity).  This is an important fisheries management measure and is used to provide the information to set a minimum landing size (now known as minimum conservation reference size (MCRS)) that is appropriate for Devon and Severn IFCA’s inshore waters.  The MCRS needs to be appropriate to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery so avoiding the ‘boom and bust’ scenario that has happened to whelk fisheries in the past.

The IFCA research indicates that in order to protect the whelk stocks and ensure a sustainable fishery within the IFCA district, there will need to be an increase in the minimum conservation reference size for whelks.  This has also been reinforced by research undertaken by Cefas. However, due to concerns raised by members of the fishing industry and processors on the financial impact of any changes, the IFCA would like to gather more information on the inshore fishery.

The IFCA has produced a survey form and district charts with grids overlain on them.  The IFCA has asked all commercial Potting Permit Holders to complete the form and indicate on the charts where they fish by marking the location in the grid boxes and to return them by 31st August 2016.  The information provided will then allow the IFCA to decide which areas need further sampling to gather more data to feed into the size of sexual maturity research.  The IFCA wishes to use the very best evidence possible to ensure that management changes are based on sound fisheries’ science and will ensure that both the whelk stocks are sustainable and a viable industry can continue.  

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