External Organisations

  • Danish Fishermen's Association, Denmark
  • Krog Consult ApS, Denmark
  • University of Hamburg, Germany
  • Marine Scotland Science, United Kingdom

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The overall goal is to establish the scientific basis for a management system for the North Sea sandeel fishery that will prevent local depletion of sandeels due to fishing and improve the yield of the fishery.

Stock assessment of sandeels in the North Sea is based on the assumption that there is one stock of sandeels in the North Sea and one stock in the Shetland area. However, recent investigations suggest that sandeels in the North Sea can be divided into several stock components or sub-stocks. Further, growth and fecundity seem to vary significantly between the different stock components. This project will analyse spatial trends in key biological parameters (emergence behaviour, growth and fecundity) and the distribution of the lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus in the North Sea. Additionally the drift pattern of sandeels larvae between the spawning areas will be analysed by use of a hydrographical model. Information about distribution, biological parameters and the drift of larvae will be used to define the stock components of sandeels to be assessed as separate population units.

Besides the lack of information about the spatial heterogeneity on the biology of sandeels, the possibility to carry out regional assessments is hindered by a lack of information about the sandeel fishery and the catches of sandeels, where the main problem being the level of aggregation of the data. To carry out assessments for each of the stock components separately, more detailed information about the fishery and the catches of sandeels is needed. The data available about the fishery can only be allocated to ICES rectangles. However, data will have to be allocated to fishing grounds. Effort and catch data as well as biological samples has since 1999 been collected on a by haul basis for 15-20 Danish vessels representing the existing vessel categories and fishing pattern in the Danish North Sea sandeel fishery. During this project satellite data for all Danish vessels fishing sandeels in the North Sea will together with the detailed data from the 15-20 vessels, be used to disaggregate data on effort and catches of sandeels, from being on a trip and ICES rectangle level to being on a haul and fishing ground level.

The information about the biology and population structure of sandeels and the detailed data about catches and effort will be used to carry out separate assessments of each of the stock components of sandeels. Furthermore, a model that was developed at DTU Aqua (THEMAS) will be used to simulate the effect of different management scenarios on the fishing fleet and the sandeel populations.

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua.



  • Research area: Marine Living Resources
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ID: 2289849