Using a development of the Scale, Intensity and Consequence Analysis (SICA) method, called ‘ecological risk screening’, it assesses all available information about the effects of fishing on various ecosystems and highlights the areas most likely to have increased risk from fishing in the South West. A scientific paper on the method is in preparation.
The model works as a screening method, using informed judgement, which focuses attention on the most important risks and screen out less important effects. Action can then be taken to improve existing or implementing new measures or through more formal management channels such as EU regulations.
The report has been produced with Seafood Cornwall, following several requests from major processors in the area looking for a more comprehensive assessment of the sustainability of fisheries in the South West.
Currently, the main source of information on responsible sourcing of fish products is based on scientific advice on the stock status of the main commercial species. However, fisheries in the South West fish for many species which are not subject to regular assessments and so conventional methods are unable to provide the full picture of the effects of fishing in the area.
Bill Lart, Sustainability and Data Advisor at Seafish, said: “The assessment was developed with Seafood Cornwall in order to conserve ecological processes and biodiversity whilst maintaining viable, sustainable fisheries in the region. The scope of it extends to all fisheries operating in ICES Division Vlle, f, g and h, which is where the main South West fleets operate.”
Seafish is continuing to develop a suite of tools to enable the fishing industry to initiate and participate in environmental assessments including the Risk Assessment for Sourcing Seafood (RASS). Due to launch in September, it enables buyers to understand potential risk in relation to sourcing seafood.
Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish, added: “The South West project is part of Seafish’s efforts to improve methods for risk assessment in fisheries. It covers both inshore and offshore fisheries and the complementary Project Inshore, which mapped out sustainability plans for all the English inshore fisheries, will enable fisheries to assess and highlight their contribution to reducing risks and ultimately contribute to information on the RASS database.”
The full report is available on the Seafish website http://www.seafish.org/media/publications/SR670ERAEFFinal_report.pdf