Short-term projections for short-lived species managed under MSY: Management of the sandeel stock in the North Sea (39148)

Project Details


The industrial fishery for small short-lived species represents the economically most important fishery in Denmark, and traditionally the North Sea sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) has played a key role in this fishery. 

Currently, quota advice for sandeel is based on the so-called B-escapement strategy, the purposes of which is to ensure that the spawning stock biomass remains large enough to maintain the survival of the population even after fish-eating fish, birds, and mammals have taken their share; and whatever is left is made available to the fishery. This type of management strategy relies on accurate predictions about the size of the incoming year class (the recruitment), if the criteria of MSY are to be fulfilled. 

The aim of the project was therefore to ensure that the short-term prognosis reflects current knowledge about the biology of sandeels in the North Sea and applies all relevant data time-series. 

A new recruitment index was introduced. Seasonal and spatial patterns in log-book based catch rates of age-1 fish were analysed and compared to recruitment indices from the year before. Spatial differences in local larval retention strength were found. 

A genetic tool that allowed us to distinguish between different sandeel species in a quick and accurate way was developed. Lastly, development of a state based assessment model that can handle seasonal data (something which is necessary for sandeel) and estimate shifting selection patterns was initiated. 

All of this work is currently contributing significantly to the preparation of the coming North Sea sandeel benchmark assessment in ICES to be held in the fall of 2016.

This project was coordinated bu DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

Research area: Marine Living Resources
Research area: Population Genetics
Effective start/end date22/07/201301/05/2015