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.
Bringing together fishermen, scientists and fisheries managers from 3 different countries and 3 different cultures and 3 different ways of working to better manage the skate and ray fishery has been a massive challenge. The SUMARiS project has created a forum for collaborative discussion and 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 pool their skills together to pool data and build a shared database and attend a traning session to provide sea-trips datas. With this tool, they produce an atlas of distribution of skates and rays. Within the survival tests (WP 2), the scientists draft a common protocol of skates and rays ageing and the methodology for scoring rays (RAMP method). The protocol of sea-trips has been validated and sea-going observers has been trained to score vitality of rays. The first sea-trip started in June 2019 in France. In 2018, 2 sea-trips on trawler in Belgium, 4 sea-trips (2 on a trawler and 2 on a gillnet vessel) in France and 5 on a gillnet vessel in UK.
The Partners started to draft the common code of conduct for the consortium and the guide for a correct identification and handling for fishermen. Debates have focused on the best way they will receive adapted tools (waterproof guide with goodies, glasses and clothes). Last automn, the Partners established too the Educational PowerPoint to use it for the first training session in a fisherie school in Belgium (WP 3).
After having identified stakeholders involved by the rays fisheries management, the Partners produced a stakeholder contacts list and a local context baseline. They are very active in several working groups and presented the project aims at the ICES Annual Conference, session “How to develop new management methods for commercial exploitation of rays" (WP4).
Nausicaa communicates on the activities and promotes the project (WP 6): so far 2 videos, 2 newletters in 3 languages, 1 press release have been produced. Social media are used too Twitter and Facebook management account is shared by FROM Nord & Nausicaa and LinkedIn is exclusively in charge of FROM Nord.
Finaly the management activities (WP 5) ensured the organisation of the project : Initiation stage has been accomplished, update the activities, organisation of Working group and Steering Committee, Minutes, Financial Claims, derogation ....