Did you know?
More than 10 species of rays and skates live in the waters of the English Channel and the North Sea.
Today, fishing for these fish is managed at a European level by a single TAC (Total Allowable Catch), without any distinction between species!
What difference does it make?
By managing species with vastly different fishing and resource levels in the same way, the regulations are incapable of adapting to the actual state of each stock.
What is the problem? There is still not enough scientific data to consider management measures for each species.
However, fishermen want to improve regulations and fishing techniques to avoid overfishing and to facilitate the release of ray and skate species that are considered as vulnerable.
So how do we achieve this?
To answer this question, English Channel and North Sea fishermen have initiated a collaborative project. What is the idea? Mobilise all stakeholders on a European scale. The first of its kind!
This is the SUMARIS project. Its objective? Propose solutions for the sustainable and cross-border management of ray and skate stocks in the English Channel and the North Sea.
First step: Get to know the different species better. To achieve this, a database on rays and skates has been set up and completed. Breeding cycle, determination of their age or even geographical distribution of the different species: extensive data have been collected.
Step 2: Disseminate this information. By creating many outreach and training tools, more and more people are now able to identify rays and skates in the English Channel and North Sea. This will lead to higher quality data in the future!
Step 3: estimate the survival rate of rays and skates after they have been released. First on the boats, with sorting, sampling and estimation of their vitals using the RAMP method. Then, some of them will be sent to land-based tanks for three weeks of increased surveillance.
Last step: Bring the whole sector together, from fishermen to scientists, to discuss how the regulations can be improved. The result? Two concrete proposals.
Proposal 1: Consider a new minimum landing size for each species.
Proposal 2: Change the method used to allocate quotas in order to find a sustainable balance between the economy and preserving maritime resources.
And what happens after that? The adventure continues for the European stakeholders of the SUMARIS project. With one goal: to continue to build up knowledge with a view to improving how these species are managed on a European scale.