Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast ecoregion – Fisheries overview
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 the 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, 73 stocks are evaluated by ICES for spawning-stock biomass (SSB) size and fishing pressure. Twenty-two stocks have been evaluated against maximum sustainable yield (MSY) reference points for fishing mortality, and 86% of these are fished below FMSY.
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.