The introduction of high survivability exemptions from the EU landing obligation has raised questions on how they relate to ICES stock advice and the management of quotas (TACs). Where discard rates are high, and survival rates are limited, substantial quantities of dead discards are generated. On the other hand, high survival rates may result in limited impacts of discarding despite high discard rates. Therefore, to achieve agreed levels of fishing mortality, dead discards should be accounted for in the stock assessment and the advice derived from it. The inclusion of discard survival in stock assessments has wider application also since it can improve estimates of fishing mortality and in turn enhance scientific advice on fishing opportunities.
This ICES workshop, WKSURVIVE, was established to explore and progress the inclusion of discard survival in stock assessments. Participants consisted of researchers with expertise in con-ducting discard survival experiments and researchers with expertise in stock assessments. The workshop successfully reviewed the approaches taken in existing ICES stocks assessments to integrate discard survival estimates. Three cases were identified: plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in Division 7.a (Irish Sea), several Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) Functional Units (FUs), and sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) in divisions 4.b, 4.c, 7.a, and 7.d–h (although only for recreational catches in this last case). These cases are reviewed and described in the report.
WKSURVIVE identified case study ICES stock assessments for which there is management in-terest to include discard survival, and for each one mapped to it relevant and robust discard survival evidence. Based on the type of assessment and the associated discard survival evidence, the group agreed on recommendations on the inclusion of discard survival for each stock assess-ment. A table including the stock assessments, survival evidence, and stock-specific recommen-dations was a key output from this workshop. The group also reviewed other case studies where the implications of discard survival on stock estimates and reference points are actively being explored, but not yet used in the assessments.
The workshop also included a small seminar with a series of presentations on recent and current research activity related to discard survival. Ten presentations were made and included, among others, the discard survival of Nephrops, sole, rays, and small pelagics. This continues to be an active research area and there is currently substantial attention on the discard survival of rays in particular, which links to the EU conditional survivability exemption for skates and rays and associated evidence roadmap. A summary of each area of research activity is presented here.