International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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EC Request - Review of the Biologically Sensitive Area/Irish Box

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posted on 2023-03-08, 09:43 authored by ICESICES

The Commission has to review the Western Waters access regime that has been in force since 2004. In particular, the Commission has to evaluate the access regime linked to the Irish Box in conjunction with other management measures applicable in the area concerned (Article 6 of Council Regulation 1954/2003). The objective of the Western Waters access regime is to avoid an increase in fishing effort (defined as overall effort directed towards demersal stocks, and effort on some benthic fisheries) compared to levels in 1998–2002. The constraint of maximum effort levels within the Irish Box is designed to accompany the restrictions on the use of demersal gears in that area, in view of its importance as a spawning and nursery ground, in particular for hake.

The Irish Box which was set up under the Iberian Act of Accession 1986, but was replaced in 2003 by a new Box, known as the Biologically Sensitive Area (BSA) under Council Regulation 1954/2003 (Figure 1). The BSA boundaries were formulated in a political context, but were based on an area considered to hold a high concentration of juvenile hake. Council Regulation 1415/2004 (known as the Western Waters Regulation) established a maximum annual fishing effort for each Member State and for each area and fishery within and close to the BSA. Council Regulation 494/2002 had established a “hake box” within part of what became the BSA. This prohibited fishing with towed gears between 55–99 mm and static gears <120 mm within much of the BSA (towed gears of 80–99 mm and static gears <120 mm are commonly used to target hake in ICES Area VII outside the box).


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