Project budget2 042 812 €
ERDF amount1 225 687 €
A large majority of the fishermen operating in the 2 sea coastal area have artisanal fishery vessels (8 to 25 m.), targeting a large composition of species. Most of them are managed with a European Total Admissible Catch (TAC). The TAC is quite recent for rays (2009 in the Eastern Channel) and it pools together several species of different conservation and exploitation status. In addition, rays don’t benefit from a long lasting knowledge and the EC tends to apply a precautionary approach to TAC-setting, which is poorly supported by fisheries and scientific evidence. SUMARiS will impact the management of rays, to make it more species-specific, economically-efficient and socially acceptable for the fishing industry while protecting the less-known species. Finally, rays will be subject to the Landing Obligation (LO) from 2019 onwards. The project will anticipate the rays’ LO, by encouraging fishermen to adapt their fishing strategies, so to avoid discards and/or release rays alive at sea.
The SUMARiS project aims to put together the necessary knowledge and evidence in order to implement a species specific cross-border management strategy for rays and skates fishery in the 2 seas area. Thus the project will allow the fisheries professional organisations to switch from limited local scale to a cross-border perspective which is more suitable for the management of a straddling marine biological resource. By gathering the existing data and completing it, the fisheries professional and scientific partners from the 3 participating countries (and observe one) will be able to adopt an evidence-based joint management strategy, protecting less-known species and allowing economic balance for sustainable fishery activities. The up-to-date knowledge about the rays and skates stocks will allow to monitor the exploited zones in an appropriate way. The survivability exemption and the ability to handle correctly rays on board will allow fishermen to release rays alive back at sea.
The main output of the project is a joint cross-border strategy for the management of rays and skates fisheries which will provide the professional organisations and fisheries authorities a clear framework for larger scale decision-making. The strategy will rely on a shared complete database providing the necessary evidence on the specific species of rays and skates as well as the results of the survival rate tests demonstrated through a validated approach. A training module and a guide will be produced in order to transfer the species-specific approach to the fishermen. These materials will enable the fishermen to better identify and register their rays and skates catches. Finally, all the outputs will benefit to the fishermen's economic activity in the long term, for one of the major fisheries of the area.
Cross border approach
SUMARiS focuses on the marine biological resource of rays and skates which is straddling across the EU waters of several coastal countries in the Channel and the Southern North Sea. All fishermen from the 2 seas area are subject to the same legal framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP - 1380/2013). A shared vision for the management of fisheries in this highly exploited area is therefore of uttermost importance. The CFP higly support the regional and crossborder approach in its article 3 (1380/2013). A number of local initiatives on rays and skates were held through the European fisheries funds (FIFG, EFF, EMFF). However, due to differences in the methods and timeframes, they failed to impact local practices as well as the European management significantly. Thus, the INTERREG 2 seas program will offer the opportunity for the professional and scientific partners to put their efforts together to design and adopt a range of coherent common tools.
The SUMARiS project has created a forum for collaborative discussion by bringing together fishermen, scientists and fisheries managers from 3 different countries. The involvement of all partners in developing and delivering the different work packages has helped partners to improve their knowledge and their practices. Concerning the fisheries knowledge (WP 1), the Partners have worked on skates and rays ageing, an atlas of the spatial distribution by species, and an age-length key for thornback ray mainly, that will be used to improve ICES assessment of the stock. Besides they use the database to register the sea-trips data, within the survival tests (WP 2).
The sea-trips have taken place throughout 2018-2019, on different gears. 10 sea-trips on trawler in Belgium, 11 sea-trips (on a trawler and on a trammelnet vessel) in France and 8 sea-trips on a gillnet vessel in UK.
The Partners set-up the common code of conduct for the consortium and the guide for a correct identification and handling for fishermen (WP 3). Debates have focused on the best way they will receive adapted tools (waterproof guide with goodies, mugs). Throughout the year, the Partners kept going the training session (11 have been established).
The Partners continued to be very active in several focus groups (North Sea Advisory Council and North Western Waters Advisory Council) and presented the project progress at the the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) working groups (e.g. WGMEDS on Methods for Estimating Discard Survival) and annual conference in Hamburg in 2018. Within the Joint Strategy (WP 4), they organised the Management Conference that took place in Canterbury to highlight some management proposals concerning rays and skates in the 2 Seas area.
Communication on the activities is active (WP 6): the teaser movie, 10 short videos (including the interviews), 4 newsletters in 3 languages and 1 press release have been produced. Social media are used too (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). Besides, promotion events are part of the project.. They have participated in parallel to different final events (e.g. H2020 DiscardLess project). Some awareness have been raised thanks to large public events (e.g. Kite Festival in Berck, Sea Festival in Boulogne s/M ""Fêtes de la Mer"") with a big audience.