Evaluation of economic indicators and closure areas in the western Mediterranean. (STECF-23-01)

Type Scientific report
Date 2023
Language English
Ref. EUR 28359 EN, ISBN 978-92X-XX-XXXXX-X, ISSN 1831-9424, DOI XXXXXXX/xxxx
Other localization https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ewg2301
Author(s) Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)
Contributor(s) Billet Norbert, Certain Gregoire, Gourguet SophieORCID, Merzereaud Mathieu, Lehuta SigridORCID, Phan Tuan AnhORCID, Ulrich ClaraORCID
Publisher Publications Office of the European Union

Commission Decision of 25 February 2016 setting up a Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, C(2016) 1084, OJ C 74, 26.2.2016, p. 4–10. The Commission may consult the group on any matter relating to marine and fisheries biology, fishing gear technology, fisheries economics, fisheries governance, ecosystem effects of fisheries, aquaculture or similar disciplines.

This report is the 10th of a suite of STECF EWG reports dedicated to the evaluation of the implementation of the Western Mediterranean Sea Multi-Annual management Plan (hereafter, MAP), following EWG reports 18-09, 18-13, 19-01, 19-14, 20-13, 21-01, 21- 13, 22-01 and 22-11.

The group was requested to continue the development of socio-economic indicators to be used in the evaluation of management measures for the West Med MAP in both West Med management units (EMU1 and EMU 1) (TOR1). Two roadmaps were discussed, a short term approach and a long term approach which would consider the expansion of all the mixed-fisheries bio-economic models to both management units. As a first step, the group focused on the proposal of harmonizing the economic indicators across the models implemented (TOR2). The group was than requested to further develop the approach implemented during EWG 22-01 to identify persistence hotspots of the six target species of the West Med MAP using scientific survey data (MEDITS) in combination to commercial spatial data (VMS joined with logbooks), to test existing and additional closure areas (TOR 3). The group was also requested to revise Article 8 of the 2023 fishing opportunities for the West Med MAP (COUNCIL REGULATION (EU) 2023/195), which lists the compensation mechanisms that MSs can implement within the West Med MAP to obtain additional fishing days in 2023 (TOR 4). For TOR 1 a roadmap was discussed and proposed on how to organise the work on socio-economic assessments for the West Med MAP in 2023. The EWG suggests that here should be a three-step process: a scoping exercise (done with EWG 23-01), a meeting with stakeholders in the middle of the year to discuss their perception of the socio-economic consequences of measures of the West Med MAP and the running of scenarios during EWG 23-11 with results from socio-economic assessments.

The EWG notes that the modellers have only the five-day meeting in September to run scenarios. Therefore, it would be crucial for the success of the assessments that the 6 scenarios provided by DG Mare for the EWG 22-11 and with some adjustments for EWG 23-01 will not change for EWG 23-11. It is crucial because those scenarios are already implemented in the models and the implementation of new scenarios would take a lot of time. The EWG proposes to run a few additional scenarios with only one measures to separate impacts of certain measures from the six scenarios where a mixture of measures is included. This would hopefully allow to give an indication what additional efforts may be necessary to reach MSY (in 2025 but also beyond in case the objective is not reached by 2025) and when gains from the implementation of the West Med Plan could be expected.

The EWG observes that modelers need to put in additional effort and resources to improve the models for an improved assessment of the West Med MAP. The models were not originally developed for the assessment of the West Med MAP and only cover parts of the area of the Western Mediterranean. Such an improvement of the models could also include work to provide longer-term socio-economic assessments of measures where modelers need to take additional assumptions into account.

The EWG notes that it would be beneficial if modelers receive a basic list of assumptions for key economic variables before the EWG 23-11 meeting in September. In 2022, for example, the increased fuel costs were an important factor regarding the economic performance of the fleets. In 2023 fuel costs have decreased but there are other cost categories with a substantial increase.

The EWG concludes that DG Mare should not change the 6 provided scenarios substantially before the EWG 23-11 meeting in September. This would allow the modelers to run the models during the meeting and provide the socio-economic results.

The EWG concludes that STECF and DG Mare should further discuss how resources could be provided to modelers to improve the applied models.

The EWG concludes that the chairs of EWG 23-01 and 23-11 will provide a list of assumptions for the implementation of the models regarding key variables for the socio-economic assessments (short- and long-term).

For TOR 2 the EWG discussed what variables and indicators the applied models include and provide. From that discussion a list of indicators was developed for which modelers will be able to provide results in the EWG 23-11 report.

The EWG concludes that a list of indicators is provided for which EWG 23-11 will present results in autumn 2023.

For TOR 3 the EWG notes that new closure areas for 2023 were implemented only by Spain (EMU 1) (Orden APA/80/2023). All closures areas implemented under the West Med MAP are described to allow testing if their implementation would reduce the catches of juveniles and adults of the six target species of the MAP by 15-25%.

The EWG notes that the methodology followed to prioritise, developing and updating closure areas based on their conservation value on the basis of existing closures, proposed closures from EWG 22-01 and new proposals developed by EWG 23-01 based on updated MEDISEH layers is similar to the one used during EWG 22-01. Updated MEDISEH layers were used for priority species (ARA, MUT and HKE) in combination with old MEDISEH layers for other species and distribution maps of commercial effort from EWG 22-01. Calculation of the percentage of the trawlable GSA area closed to fishing is higher in EMU 1 than EMU 2, therefore the estimation of additional closure areas on top of the existing ones foccused on this management unit. Additional closure areas to test were based on persistence hotsposts from survey data and from areas of high effort in order to impact directly on the reduction of fishing mortality.

The EWG notes that the exisiting and additional closures could be tested only in EMU 2 and GSA 7 as for GSA 1, 5 and 6 the extension of the spatially-explicit model ISIS-Fish is not complete yet and it is still limited to a single species (HKE).

The EWG notes that closure areas in GSA 7 were tested with two different methods. A static method comparing effort distribution data before and after the closures implementation in 2020, and a dynamic method applying ISIS-Fish. The first method showed how the establishment of the spatio-temporal closure imposed a strong seasonal constraint to the fishing effort in the Gulf of Lions, and that the fishermen community responded quite well to the new rule, although vessels increased their fishing effort along the closure border, with a typical « fishing the line » pattern, especially in the fall. The second model showed that introducing an additional closure did not improve the rebuilding of the hake stock, while changing the closures from seasonal to permanent suggested the strongest effect.

The EWG notes that in EMU 2 that temporal closures for the whole fleet reduce global effort while additional spatial closures increase effort towards coastal areas (depths <200m) specifically for fleet segments <18m. Fishing mortality instead is reduced for all species by the introducion of additional closures, specifically those targeting high effort areas, although Fmsy is reached only for ARS and DPS and for already underexploited stocks (MUT 10 and NEP).

The EWG concludes that provided that the area in GSA 7 have been chosen according to juvenile hake catch, we can expect that, given the strong observed response of the fishermen community, the closure in GSA7 has the potential to positvely impact the hake recruitment in the long run. Still, two years of implementation remains a short time-scale to observe strong changes in a long-lived stock. More time, observations and analysis will be necessary in the future to further quantify the efficiency of these closures.

The EWG concludes that no positive effects on the stocks biomasses are observed in EMU 2 indipendently of the scenarios applied.

For TOR 4, the EWG notes that both definitions of “juveniles” and “spawners” are not clearly stated in the Regulation (95/2023) making a bit challenging the evaluation of the criterions. A similar consideration could be done for the term “catch reduction” which is never specified whether it should be considered in number or weight.

The EWG could not fully understand if the compliance with the criterions in term of results achieved would be evaluated at some point in the process.

The EWG reports that for point a) the literature suggests that the requested threshold of at least 25% of reduction in hake juveniles seems not achievable.

For point b) only for Blue and red shrimps the introduction of a 50mm square mesh size seems to lead to the decrease of specimens below 25mm CL at least of 25%.

However, for vessels targeting Blue and red shrimps in EMU2, this is a mixed fisheries targeting also Giant red shrimp and it is not applicable to have two different size thresholds for the two species. The EWG suggested that the criterion should be revised providing just one size threshold, ideally selecting the one proposed for blue and red shrimps.

According to the IMPLEMED results the same conclusion of point a) can be shared with point c) when a grid of 20mm space bar is used.

For point d) EWG cannot find any clear evidence or results which corroborate the fact that specific closures could lead to a reduction in juveniles and spawners at the level requested by the criterion.

Point e) refers to an increase of the MCRS for hake (26cm TL) which if not linked with some additional technical measures should just lead to an increase of discards of hake and, likely, black market.

For point f), the EWG agreed the temporal closures implemented by Spain and France under the West Med MAP are following the criterion.

The EWG concludes that considering the available knowledge and the analysis done during the meeting only the requests based on point b) and point f) could be considered fully in compliance with what the criterion stated, for point d) there weren’t enough information to be fully evaluated if it is feasible or not while the others criterion seems to be not corroborated by the available literature.

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Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) (2023). Evaluation of economic indicators and closure areas in the western Mediterranean. (STECF-23-01). EUR 28359 EN, ISBN 978-92X-XX-XXXXX-X, ISSN 1831-9424, DOI XXXXXXX/xxxx. https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00839/95122/