Five different regional case studies will be investigated as part of Myfish:

The Baltic Sea

The Mediterranean and the Black Sea

The North Sea

The Western Waters

Widely Ranging Fish


The Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is a complex and intriguing study area. The fishery targets specific stock but strong interactions occur among the dominant species due to ecological and environmental factors.

At an ecological level, fluctuations in the cod stock can affect the natural mortality rates of the pelagic species; sprat and juvenile herring. Conversely, the two pelagic species compete and act as predators on early life stages of cod.

Despite the single species nature of the fisheries, management of one species will inevitably impact on other species.

In addition, the Baltic Sea productivity in fishery is strongly influenced by environmental changes. As an example, it has been proved that changes in the hydrography, salinity and temperature in the Baltic Sea have an impact on the reproductive success of cod.

Although the economic information on Baltic Sea fisheries is comprehensive and the model developed (ECO2) is advanced, species interactions are currently included only in a simplified form and GES indicators are not taken into account. Baltic Sea GES indicators have been developed and with baseline objectives and definitions developed from the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (HELCOM 2007), the EU Data Collection Regulation (DCR, Appendix XIII of Com. Decision 2008/949) and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, DIRECTIVE 2008/56/EC).

MYFISH will collaborate with HELCOM and ICES to determine the role of GES as potential constraints to MSY variants.


The Mediterranean and the Black Sea

The Mediterranean and Black Sea fishery is mainly traditional small scale artisanal and fishing techniques and methods vary along the coast.

To focus the effort in this complex and diverse geographical area, Myfish will investigate similar demersal communities in two different regions: the Aegean Sea (FAO-GFCM sub-area 22) and the Balearic Islands (FAO-GFCM sub-area 5).

The mains species targeted by the project will be red mullet, hake and shrimps which are fished by bottom trawl and small-scale traditional fishing techniques in both regions.

This diversity in fishing techniques often lead to a competition or at least overlap among fisheries. Indeed, it is common that vessels - fishing with different techniques - targeting the same stock.

With the exception of bluefin tuna, quotas are not implemented in the Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries and to date management is exclusively based on input regulation such as direct control effort schemes (i.e. restrictions on fleet capacity and fishing licenses, as well as spatiotemporal fishery closures), accompanied by technical measures (minimum landing size and gear regulations).

Further to this, the status of the stocks are poorly known due to lack of sufficient data - especially in the eastern Mediterranean. In the Western Mediterranean , biomass and fishing mortality reference points estimates show that most demersal stocks (e.g. hake, red mullet, red shrimp) are over-exploited or at least fully-exploited (GFCM 2010).

The broad definition of MSY will be discussed in the together with the relevant stakeholders – mainly fishermen association - .

Existing models will be adapted to consider technical interactions, fleet dynamics and economics specifically as well as ecosystem indicators. MEFISTO, the simulation model designed for the Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, is used to investigate the bio-economic impacts of the management measures.


The North Sea

The North Sea is ecosystem is heavily exploited’and its fisheries are diverse in terms of target species, impact and fishing behaviours.

The North Sea regional study will address different interactions at ecological, economic and social levels.

An interesting aspect of North Sea fisheries is that they are local that there are many national initiatives and innovations for improving fisheries sustainability. These include measures such as closed areas to fishing, mechanisms to avoid fishing on cod, fully documented fisheries and ecocertification.

The extensive amount of biological and socio-economic data and models already adopted will be the base to identify and test different MSY variants and their impact on existing and new indicators of GES. The stakeholder involvements will further ensure a bottom up strategy for the developments of relevant management alternatives.

The socioeconomic aspect of maximising MSY will be addressed, with a focus on the ecosystem based approach (and Descriptor 1 of GES).

The productivity of different stocks in different ecological scenarios will be tested and integrated in the models – SMS and FISHRENT - to assess their economic impact.

Management measures will be identified and tested in collaboration with stakeholders through multi-fleet bio-economic fisheries models.


The Western Waters

The Western waters region covers diverse areas from the exposed Iberian Seas in the south to the semi-enclosed Irish Sea in the north.

There is a great variety in the stocks targeted and hence the gear used. At the same time, a relatively low proportion of the target species are subject to annual TACs based on scientific advice.

The project will look at consider the Celtic Seas, the Irish Sea and Bay of Biscay & Iberian seas separately.

To understand the Celtic Sea ecosystem and its dynamics, an ‘ecosystem operating modelling approach’ will be adopted. Ecosystem and fishing fleet models will be linked to the implication in management in social, economic and biological terms. The social impacts of implementing different MSY variants and management strategies will be investigated through interviews with stakeholders.

The southern Irish Sea is a system dominated by demersal elasmobranches which support a small fleet of specialized trawlers based in SE Ireland, although it can be noted that the fish are also taken as bycatch by French, UK, and Belgian vessels. In spite of their focus on slow growing, low fecundity, emblematic species, the fishery appears to be sustainable. As elasmobranches occur as bycatch, the obligation in the Maritime Strategy Framework Directive to maintain biodiversity makes their management an EU-wide concern. In cooperation with local stakeholders, MSY will be estimated for slow growing, low fecundity, emblematic species caught both as target and bycatch species. Different models - PDMM Ecopath/Ecosim – will assess the MSY for the interactions among the multiple demersal elasmobranches.

The Bay of Biscay supports mixed fisheries of hake, sole and Nephrops which are caught using demersal gear that have considerable impact on both bottom sediments and fauna. Spatial model - ISIS-Fish - will be used to simulate the impact of management strategies and assess the vulnerability for the benthic community. Projections will be formulated on quantitative indicators of changes including both biological and socioeconomic descriptors.

The role of conflict in building consensual management objectives and the social dimension will be explored in the Iberian Seas where both large scale trawling and smaller scale traditional fisheries operate. The social component of the context will be investigated through input-output tables.


Widely Ranging Fish

Widely ranging fish differs from other regions in its spatial extent, encompassing the pan-regional RACs, Pelagic RAC and long distance RAC, and regional fisheries management organisations (RFMO).

In addition, most of the large pelagic stock - have been fished close to Fishery Maximum Sustainable Yield for the last ten years with broad support from the fishing industry. Despite this, proper models integrating the complexity of this system have not been developed and the indicators of GES that have been developed (using techniques applicable to demersal fisheries and fish stocks) are not representative of the widely ranging system.

Myfish will provide guidance on descriptors of GES specifically targeting the ecology of pelagic habitats, and the particularities of European pelagic fisheries. The indicators will also be discussed with NGOs, fishers and fish processers. An ecosystem model, incorporating data on phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish and fisheries - developed in FP7 EURO-BASIN project – will be implemented. The aim is to provide tools to understand the ecological implications of specific management plans. A game theoretic application to support fishers and managers understanding of the possible and complex reactions of fishing fleets under the alternative management plans will be also developed.

flagsThe research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 /2007-2013) under grant agreement no 289257. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which maybe made of the information contained therein.