Workshop on incorporating discards into the assessments and advice of elasmobranch stocks (WKSHARK5, outputs from 2019 meeting)
Elasmobranchs are mainly species that are not targeted but appear in various amounts as by-catch. Although, the EU landing obligation requires all catches to be landed, skates and rays have a temporary exemption from this because of the expected high discard survival rate. At the same time, the data on elasmobranch stocks are often limited, and information on catches and discards is important to improve the assessment of these stocks. Between 25 February and 1 March 2019, WKSHARK5 met in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands to discuss the incorporation of discards into the assessments and advice of elasmobranch stocks. Eighteen experts from seven countries tackled the issues around raising methods, data sources, data quality and how to deal with species which have been under moratorium. Ultimately it is envisaged that an advice framework will be developed that incorporates data on discards.
The meeting was attended by ten members of Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF) and attracted experts from other groups such as the Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC), the Working Group on Commercial Catches (WGCATCH), the Joint ICES/Probyfish Workshop on identification of target and bycatch species (WKTARGET), and the Working Group on Beam Trawl Surveys (WGBEAM).
The last plenary of each day Tuesday to Thursday was held with an open WebEx connection allowing extra participation in the workshop.The objective of WKSHARK5 was to:
a) Investigate and propose a raising method for elasmobranch fishes when a species is mostly discarded, as standard raising procedures are not applicable;
b) Evaluate and define the data quality and onboard coverage; discard retention patterns between fleets and countries; discard survival, as well as the definition of acceptable types/sources of data required for advice;
c) propose how to include discard information into the advisory process for elasmobranch fishes;
d) Propose a method to provide fishing opportunities that ensure that exploitation is sustainable when a species has been under moratorium, as is the case with the undulate ray.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee