The Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery re-opened in July 2010. The closure of the fishery has led to an increase in the abundance of older fish and has increased the biomass above precautionary levels. The stock is now assessed as having full reproductive capacity. However, the actual fishing mortality is not defined. It is a short-lived species, with the fishable stock consisting primarily of one-year-old fish. Anchovy is also a species at or near the base of the food chain and the impact of their large-scale removal on the marine ecosystem is poorly understood.
Anchovy is the only European member of the Engraulidae family. A relative of the herring, it is a small, short-lived fish, generally living less than three years although it can live up to four years. The European anchovy is mainly a coastal marine species, forming large schools. It tolerates salinities of 5-41 ppt and can be found as deep as 400m. Average length at maturity is 13.5 cm although it can reach 20cm. Spawning occurs over an extended period from April to November with peaks usually in the warmest months (June to August in the southern North Sea and the Channel, and April to September in the Mediterranean), the limits of the spawning season dependent on temperature and thus more restricted in northern areas. It is found in the East Atlantic, and although can be found as far north as Norway and as far south as South Africa, it is more commonly found in the Mediterranean and off the Atlantic coast of Portugal, Spain and France. It tends to move further north and into surface waters in summer, retreating and descending into deeper waters in winter. It feeds on planktonic organisms, especially calanoid copepods, cirrepede and mollusk larvae, and fish eggs and larvae. Anchovies are prey for other fish and marine mammals.
Bay of Biscay
The fishery for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay was closed in 2005 following the collapse of the fishery. The collapse is likely due to a combination of factors, including long periods of overfishing and a failure of recruitment during 2004. Recruitment (the process by which fish join the fishery) depends strongly on environmental factors. The fishery reopened in July 2010 with a noticeable recovery; the stock biomass is now within the precautionary limits set by ICES. The stock biomass is assessed as having full reproductive capacity in 2013. Fishing mortaility however is undefined but in 2012 the harvest rate was below the average of the historical series since 1987 . To prevent the stock falling below the minimum level required ICES advises that catches from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 should be reduced and be no more than 18,000 t (28,000 t for the period 1 July 2012 to June 2013).
The main methods for catching anchovy in this area are by pelagic trawl (30%) and purse seine (65%). The Spanish fleet operates in Divisions VIIIc and VIIIb in spring, while the French fleets operate in VIIIa in summer and autumn and in Divisions VIIIb in winter and summer. Both fleets have reduced in size since 2003 and the closure of the fishery in 2006. Purse seining is the most selective fishing method as species specific shoals can be targeted; pelagic trawls are associated with higher incidences of bycatch. Both methods can be associated with cetacean bycatch.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES Advice 2013, Book 7
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