Shellfish Mortality Update

Posted on 8th April 2022

May 22 - South Gare and Tees Washup

NEIFCA are aware of recent wash ups at South Gare and the Tees area. We are actively monitoring these events and maintaining close contact with both the local fishing industry and other partner agencies, particularly in light of the completion of recent Defra led investigations. At this stage it is important that we gather and collate accurate up to date information on any dead or dying marine life which is washed up along the North Yorkshire & Tees coastline or any other 'unusual' occurrences. These can be reported via our website www.ne-ifca.gov.uk , by phone 01482 393 515 (voice mail facility) or email ne-ifca@eastriding.gov.uk 

April 22 - Shellfish Mortality Incident Update

Following the mass shellfish mortality event observed off the North East Coast, NEIFCA is committed to monitoring the fishery, its recovery and to assess the impact that these events have had. Our response can be summarised as follows:

1. Catch and Effort Assessment

In order to understand the impacts of the events, we need to assess how catch rates (numbers of lobsters and crabs per pots hauled) have changed. Officers are reviewing sales, landings and effort data for the period October 2021 to present and comparing this to previous years. The introduction of the under 10m catch recording app introduces challenges in making like for like comparisons, so we are also making a call for evidence for any additional data held by fishers. Any information held on plotters or notebooks that allows for a comparison of catch rates with previous years would be extremely useful in quantifying impacts. Officers are available to offer assistance in providing this information.

2. Shellfish Health

Monitoring shellfish health is important to ensure that any signals of recurrence of symptoms or greater than typical mortality is identified early. Symptoms including twitching legs, shellfish rolling onto their backs, lethargic animals or increased mortality should be reported to a NEIFCA Officer or the central office in Bridlington. Our Officers are visiting ports in the region to capture this information as well as any catch rate information you have. Shellfish health is also being monitored at sea during potting surveys aboard our patrol vessel and on observer trips on local industry boats.

3. Industry Led Science

Real time data capture is going to be key in the coming months to monitor the fishery and inform any management response. NEIFCA will be contacting permit holders directly in the near future regarding catch reporting.

As the season begins, we are also seeking vessels with pots in the impacted area to take observers aboard to gather catch rate and shellfish health data directly. A number of vessels have already offered to work with us to collect this vital information, however, more participants are needed to ensure data from across the affected region is captured. Participation can be discussed with Officers on the quayside or by contacting our central office in Bridlington. During routine boarding operations, Officers may also request to stay aboard while fleets are hauled to capture this data as well.

4. North Eastern Guardian III

We are also utilising our patrol and research vessel to capture data on catch rates and shellfish health in the lead up to our standard stock assessment surveys in the spring. These pots do not have escape gaps which allow us to assess the abundance of juvenile lobster and crab. We will also be deploying a range of underwater video systems to gather sea bed imagery.

5. Communication and Engagement

The most recent joint agency stakeholder briefing document is attached below. Further information will be published on our new website at www.ne-ifca.gov.uk in the news section, as well as on our Facebook page so be sure to follow to get notifications.

CLICK HERE for the March 2022 Stakeholder Report

An industry working group has been established with representatives from regional fishing associations and collectives to better aid in the dissemination of information and to listen to your views. The first meeting was held on the 24th February 2022. This group will meet regularly to gain insights directly from the industry and to communicate findings to date.

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