||Hake is one of the most important demersal target species for the commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Lions (GSA 7). In this area, hake is exploited by French trawlers, French gillnetters, Spanish trawlers and Spanish longliners. Since 1998, an average of 243 boats are involved in this fishery and, according to official statistics, the total annual catches for the period 1998-2015 have oscillated around an average value of 1961 tons (1139 tons in 2015). In 2009, because of the large decline of small pelagic fish species in the area, the trawlers fishing small pelagic have diverted their effort on demersal species. Between 1998 and 2015, the number of French trawlers operating in the GSA 07 has decreased by 50%. The French trawler fleet is the largest considering catches realized, the proportion of boats and catches are respectively (27% and 73%). The length of hake in the trawler catches ranges between 3 and 92 cm total length (TL), with an average size of 21 cm TL. The second largest fleet is the French gillnetters (41 and 16% respectively, range 13-86 cm TL and average size 39 cm TL), followed by the Spanish trawlers (9 and 10%, respectively, range 5-88 cm TL, and average size 24 cm TL), and the Spanish longliners (4 and 1%, respectively, range 22-96 cm TL and average size 52 cm TL). The hake trawlers exploit a highly diversified species assemblage: Striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus), red mullet (M. barbatus), angler fish (L. piscatorius), blackbellied angler fish (L. budegassa), european conger (Conger conger), poor-cod (Trisopterus minutus capelanus), fourspotted megrim (Lepidorhombus boscii), soles (Solea spp.), horned octopus (Eledone cirrhosa), squids (Illex coindetii), gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), seabreams (Pagellus spp.), blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), tub gurnard (Chelidonichtys lucerna).
The stock is in an overexploitation status with a relative low biomass with periodically higher recruitments (1998, 2001-2002 and 2007). Since 2007, the recruitment follows a decreasing trend and is currently at a low level. The recruitment estimated for 2015 is 38152 thousands individuals, which is below the series average (54906 thousands). The spawning stock biomass (SSB) displays a decreasing trend over the analysed period, especially in the very recent year. The exploitation level is currently above the level estimated to be sustainable. The reference point F0.1 (0.15), chosen as proxy of FMSY and as the exploitation reference point consistent with high long term yields is highly lower than current fishing mortality (Fcur=1,92). The exploitation is mainly concentrated on young individuals.