Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Bay of Biscay and Iberian Waters
Stock detail - VIIIc and IXa
Fish type - White flat fish
Precise state of the stock unknown, but indications are that stock levels and recruitment are low. Discards are substantial in this fishery and the majority of catch taken in this area is by trawlers targeting whitefish such as hake, which is overfished in this area.
A common flatfish found in shelf seas throughout the northeast Atlantic. Megrim spawns in spring in deep water off Iceland, and between January and April along the edge of the continental shelf to the southwest and west of the British Isles. It is found at depths ranging from 50-800 m, but with the highest abundance around 100-300 m. For both sexes combined, 50% of individuals mature at about 20cm at 2.5 years old. Males reach first maturity at a lower length and age than females. Megrim can attain a length of about 60cm, although more usually 35-45cm, and a maximum age of 14-15 years.
Bay of Biscay and Iberian Waters
Two species of megrim are caught as part of mixed fisheries, megrim (Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis) and four-spot megrim (L. boscii), with the latter making up the majority of catches. Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis stocks in this area are believed to be at an all time low, and there has been poor recruitment over the last decade. A decrease in discarding of younger fish, and failure to meet a relatively low TAC, are also indicative of a low stock level and low recruitment. As both species are managed under one TAC and landings of the two species are not distinguished at port, it is impossible to manage the two stocks separately. Fishing mortality has decreased since 2006 and is currently below the target for maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for L.boscii and below for L.Whiffiagonis. SSB has increased from a minimum observed in 2009 and is currently the highest observed in the last 25 years. ICES recommends that combined landings of both species be no more than 2257 t (890t in 2013) and catches should be no more than 2790 t in 2014.
The majority of catches are taken by Portuguese and Spanish trawlers (95% bottom otter trawl) targeting whitefish, such as hake and anglerfish, and nephrops.The minimum landing size for megrim in EU waters is 20cm (25cm in Skagerrak/Kattegat). Discards of megrim in this fishery are substantial and estimated to be 10-45% of the catch in numbers.
ICES Advice 2012, Book 5
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.