- Project Dates: From October 2012 to September 2016
- Project Leader: Dr Clare Fitzsimmons
- Staff: Prof. Nick Polunin, Dr Mike Smith (Cefas), Dr Mike Bell (Heriot-Watt)
- Sponsors: NERC-CASE, Cefas
- Partners: Heriot-Watt
With the general decline in finfish yields shellfisheries now play an important socio-economic role in fishing communities. Current levels of crab fishing are at or beyond biologically sensible levels and many UK stocks are 'over exploited'. The newly formed Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) have been tasked with the sustainable management of sea fisheries resources in their local areas out to 6 nautical miles. However, knowledge of edible crab population dynamics is limited and given the absence of age data and the inadequacy of abundance estimates current scientific stock assessments are imprecise.
This study aims to support the work of Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) which covers 130 km of coast from Tynemouth to Berwick, where artisanal inshore fisheries help sustain several coastal communities. Building on existing collaborations between Newcastle University, Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) and Natural England, this study will collect data within the NIFCA district, improving the evidence-base and analytical methodologies to support management decisions on sustainable resource use.
Objectives are to:
- Estimate age and growth rates for the local edible crab population to provide an unbiased and geographically relevant quantitative underpinning for stock assessments.
- Define spatial and temporal patterns in directed fishing effort and catch rates of edible crabs across the study area.
- Quantify the stock in terms of recent and historical abundance and mortality levels and determine status in relation to potential reference points for yield and spawning potential.
This work has been supported by previously funded studies: Impacts of windfarms on Northumberland shellfisheries, H.gammarus and C.pagurus (MMO); Assessment of edible and velvet crab fisheries in Northumberland (Natural England).