International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast ecoregion – Fisheries overview, including mixed-fisheries considerations

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posted on 2023-08-22, 09:02 authored by ICESICES

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This fisheries overview contains details of mixed-fisheries considerations for Iberian waters demersal stocks, as well as a description of the fisheries and their interactions within the ecoregion.

As examples of these mixed-fisheries considerations, eight scenarios are presented of fishing opportunities for five stocks fished within ICES divisions 8.c and 9.a: black anglerfish (ank.27.8c9a), hake (hke.27.8c9a), four-spot megrim (lbd.27.8c9a), megrim (meg.27.8c9a), and white anglerfish (mon.27.8c9a). The single-stock advice for those species is also taken into account.

The mixed-fisheries projections show that for 2020 the limiting stock for fishing opportunities is hake; black anglerfish, conversely, is the least limiting stock. The commercial fisheries in the ecoregion target a wide variety of stocks, resulting in a diverse and spatially varied fishing industry. The countries with the largest landings and effort in the ecoregion are Spain, Portugal, and France, with minor landings from Ireland, Belgium, and UK. The most common gear used in the area is bottom trawls that target demersal species. The highest landings, however, are taken by midwater trawls mainly targeting species such as blue whiting, mackerel, and to a lesser extent species such as sardine.

Of the wide variety of stocks both targeted and caught as bycatch, 69 stocks are evaluated by ICES for spawning-stock biomass size and fishing pressure. Twenty-three stocks have been evaluated against maximum sustainable yield (MSY) or precautionary approach (PA) reference points for fishing mortality, and 61% of these are fished below FMSY. Only 20 stocks have been evaluated against biomass reference points, of which 75% are at or above MSY Btrigger.

In addition to biomass removal, ecosystem effects of fisheries include abrasion, ghost fishing, damage to benthic fauna by demersal trawling, and bycatch of marine mammals, elasmobranchs, and seabirds. Several regulatory and research efforts are in place or are being developed, aimed at reducing the impact of fishing on the ecosystem.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • ACOM


ICES Advice: Fisheries overviews

Recommended citation

ICES. 2019. Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast ecoregion – Fisheries overview, including mixed-fisheries considerations. In Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2019. ICES Advice 2019.