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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Fisheries management and conservation in the Irish Sea

  • K. Brander1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:BF02414789


The Irish Sea ia a relatively small, enclosed sea area which is subject to a wide range of human uses including navigation, oil terminals, dumping of sewage and industrial sludge, cooling for nuclear power stations, gravel extraction, gas and oil prospecting and fishing. Commercial fishing is affected by the other uses and at the same time it provides a means of monitoring their effects on a part of the ecosystem. Regular samples taken from fish markets provide a long series of age-composition data of the main commercial species — cod, whiting, plaice and sole — from which population changes can be assessed. More recently groundfish trawl surveys have been carried out to provide more detailed information on the distribution of all demersal fish species seasonally and in relation to area, depth and sediment type. Advice on the management of commercial fish species is prepared by a working group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and is based mainly on analytical single-species models. There are obvious shortcomings of such models in an area of mixed fishery and high diversity such as the Irish Sea. The objectives adopted in these models and in fisheries management generally are examined critically in relation to the possible aims of conservation.