3. Outcome and next steps
There is significant uncertainty with regards to the state of the Clyde herring stock. The situation this year is an exception to what we have seen in recent years, with the breakdown of the Scotia in 2022 meaning that the Q1 IBTS survey could not take place, and that there is therefore more uncertainty than usual.
As fishery managers, we must act responsibly even in the absence of fully comprehensive scientific information, and the uncertainties this year suggest that a cautious approach is prudent. Many of the responses to the consultation highlighted this as a reason for setting a reduced or 0 TAC until more robust scientific data can be obtained. On the other hand, other responses highlighted that there is no evidence to suggest that the TAC should be reduced.
Taking into account the best available scientific information and the views submitted through the consultation process, the TAC for 2022 will be set at 466 tonnes. This is a 20% reduction on the 2021 TAC, following the principle of a precautionary buffer. This mirrors the approach taken by ICES for some category 3-6 stocks, when the stock status is unknown, and balances the arguments for rolling over or increasing the TAC, with the arguments for setting a 0 or de minimis TAC.
Some respondents raised concerns with what they perceived as a 'use it or lose it' approach to the TAC setting. However, this approach is not impacted or influenced by how much of the stock has been fished in recent years. The approach it is driven by the uncertainty in the information available; regardless of uptake, these levels of uncertainty necessitate a precautionary approach.
This in no way pre-empts the approach that will be taken in future years. As noted above, the situation in 2022 is an exception to what we have seen in recent years, due to a lack of survey data. Appropriate catch limits will be considered each year on the basis of the information available.
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