Useful infographics published on status of fish stocks important for Belgian fisheries | Flanders Marine Institute

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Useful infographics published on status of fish stocks important for Belgian fisheries

Ostend (2018.12.06) – On the eve of the Council of European Fisheries Ministers in December – on which the fishing opportunities for the year 2019 will be decided – the Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) publish for the first time a series of concise infographics on the fish stocks, which are important for the Belgian fishing fleet. Per species there are three indicators shown at a glance: (1) how scientists assess the state of the stocks of the species, (2) how large are the quotas allocated to Belgium, and (3)  the size of the effective catches by Belgian vessels in last year.

Press release by: ILVO and VLIZ

Belgian fishermen catch more than 50 species of seafood (mostly fish, but also some crustaceans and molluscs) in as many as 10 different fishing areas. The status of each of these species in each sea area is evaluated annually. Experts of the Belgian research institute ILVO supply the data on the Belgian fisheries. Based on these data, delivered by Belgium and all other countries involved in European fisheries, a mega-analysis is made to determine the state of 'the' European fish stocks. The processed data are published for all fish stocks and all countries together. Hans Polet (ILVO): "What makes it somewhat difficult to get a picture of the fisheries per country."

In order to get an overview of the data specific important for the Belgian fishing fleet, ILVO and VLIZ have publish infographics per species. "For every fish stock (fish species) you get an overview of the quotas, the landings and the biological state of the relevant stocks."

Such biological data on fish stocks form the basis for the European fishing quotas, which are determined annually by the Council of European Fisheries Ministers in December. ILVO and VLIZ intend to update the infographics after the publication of the scientific advice and the quotas early 2019. The infographics (in Dutch) are freely available for everyone via the VLIZ website. Click on

More specific

For the 12 most important fish species covered by the quota system (sole, plaice, cod, whiting, haddock, brill, turbot, lemon sole, megrim, common and black monkfish and Norway lobster) infographs have been drawn up with the Belgian landings in 2017, the allowable catches in 2018 and the state of their stocks in 2018.

Beginning 2019 the infographics immediately will be given a makeover, with the data update on the catches for 2018 and the quota for 2019. For the nearly 40 fish species - pout for example - that are not covered by a quota scheme, additional maps are provided with the state of the stocks in the different fishing areas.

To better derive a nuanced and diverse story from the information graphics

An example: the plaice population shows a healthy score in the North Sea and Skagerrak (areas 3a20, 4a + 4b + 4c). The whole area is therefore colored in green on the map. That means concretely that a high and growing spawning stock biomass has been recorded during the last 10 years, the fishing mortality is around a sustainable level and the population growth remains stable. It is therefore good (and logical) that no less than 67% of the Belgian landings of this species in 2017 came from the North Sea and the Skagerrak. We also see that more than 60% of the Belgian plaice quota was fished in 2017. In the course of 2018, Belgium may fish up about 6% of the total allowable catch. Other large parts of the cake go to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark.

A second example: Cod is doing less well in the North Sea. That fish stock is still recovering from the crash in 2006. The spawning biomass is now just above the critical lower limit, but still below the 'sustainable' limit. The fishing mortality rate is still too high. The North Sea area therefore has code 'dark orange' on the map. Improvement is not yet in sight. For the time being there are no new strong year classes that can strengthen the population. The Belgian catch in 2017 was "only" 799 tonnes for all fishing grounds combined, of which 87% from the North Sea and Skagerrak. Approximately three-quarters of the quota was used. The Belgian quota in 2018 amounted 1275 tonnes, which is only 3% of the total allowable catch. Cod in this area is also being fished by the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Germany.

Press contacts

For more information on the infographics or on the status of the fish stocks: