Nicholas Flores Martin provides an update on the Malta case study’s work, attempting to understand demersal resources of the Maltese Fishery Management Zone.
“Field activities began in April 2013 and will last for 12 months, until March 2014. Sampling was initially scheduled to begin in March but was postponed due to a delay with obtaining the nets for the study (which were made in Sicily) and bad weather.
Catch data is collected both by scientists on board, as well as the fishermen themselves, who then deliver their samples to the researchers for further analysis. We are currently processing samples from the first cruise, and are about to start our second month of sampling.
Researchers are using GIS and maps to integrate the different data they are working with, for example spawning and recruitment areas of different species.
The project is also being conducted to compare the official trawling zones provided by the EU, with trawling zones proposed by the fishermen themselves. Trawlers are finding some of the official zones unsuitable e.g. the catch profile from some areas contains a high proportion of discards, some zones are too deep (over 500 fathoms), while others have very uneven bottoms.
So both the outcomes and information provided by the case study is of immediate interest to fishers and managers”.
Issues and Resolutions
“There is now a formal agreement between GAP2 and the trawlers organization, meaning that 12 trawlers are currently involved directly in the case study – half of them targeting deep water and the others targeting shallow water species.
Fishermen sometimes find it difficult to digest the data utilised by scientists. Because of this, scientists periodically hold meetings with the fishermen and once a month meet with owners and crew to organize the samplings for the following month.”