International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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Celtic Seas ecoregion – fisheries overview

posted on 2024-01-25, 08:03 authored by ICESICES

The commercial fisheries in the Celtic Seas ecoregion target a large number of stocks. The pelagic fisheries, which account for the largest catches (by weight) in the region are the midwater trawl fisheries for blue whiting, mackerel, horse mackerel, herring, boarfish, and sprat. The largest demersal fishery targets hake along the shelf edge using gillnets and longlines. There are also large mixed bottom-trawl fisheries targeting benthic species, Norway lobster, and gadoids. The species composition of these mixed fisheries tends to vary, depending on the area and the countries involved in the fishery.

The relationship of biomass status or the fishing mortality to reference points is not known for 60% of the 107 stocks that are assessed in the ecoregion. Though only 31% of the stocks are fished below FMSY, these stocks account for nearly 44% of the total landings. There has been a trend of declining fishing mortality since the mid-1990s for the benthic and demersal stocks with known status. The average F/FMSY ratio is below 1 for assessed benthic stocks and just above for the assessed demersal stocks. The trend for stock size in assessed benthic and demersal stocks has been increasing over the same period. The average F/FMSY ratio is below 1 for the crustacean stocks, and the average biomass has been above 1 in the past decade. The average F/FMSY ratio for pelagic assessed stocks has been above 1 in recent years, and the average stock size indicator is declining in recent years but remains above MSY Btrigger.

Technical interactions in demersal mixed fisheries are described for three areas within the ecoregion. Norway lobster account for the highest landings in the Irish Sea; they are mainly taken in trawl fisheries where they account for more than 90% of the total landings. In the Celtic Sea and west of Ireland hake account for the majority of the landings; they are mainly taken in longline and gillnet fisheries which are also dominated by hake. In the west of Scotland Norway lobster again account for the highest landings; they are mainly taken using otter trawls but also in pots.

Supporting data used in the Celtic Seas fisheries overview is accessible at


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

  • ACOM
  • FRSG


ICES Advice: Fisheries overviews

Recommended citation

ICES. 2022 Celtic Seas Ecoregion – fisheries Overview. In Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2022. ICES Advice 2022, section 7.2.