NIFCA Surveys

Escape Gap Survey

NIFCA are currently conducting a survey to evaluate the effectiveness of using escape gaps in pots. We are experimentally fishing two fleets of 10 pots with alternating pots with and without escape gaps. The catch composition and carapace lengths of lobsters and Brown crab caught in pots with and without escape gaps will be compared to determine if escape gaps are effective in reducing the number of undersized lobsters caught and also to ensure fishers are not losing a significant number of sized lobsters. Velvet crab catch will also be compared as many fishers’ are concerned that catch will be significantly reduced. NIFCA are encouraging local fishers to trial escape gaps in 30 of their pots and working with students at Newcastle University we hope to determine if there has been a change in fishers’ views before and after this trial.

NIFCA lobster pots fitted with escape gaps

Lobster Stock Assessment Surveys

Between 2014 and 2016 NIFCA collected lobster catch data on-board 4 fishing vessels approximately once per month. The data collected included total number of lobsters caught, number retained and discarded by fishers, carapace length, carapace width, egg development stage, number v-notched etc. This data will be used to evaluate the condition of the lobster stock within the NIFCA district.

Fish Surveys

NIFCA conduct a number of fish surveys using a seine net within the district (Long Nanny, Beadnell Bay, Druridge Bay and Aln Estuary).  We also use fish Fyke nets overnight twice a year in the Aln Estuary and hope to start beam trawl surveys at Cambois in early 2017.

Fish Survey (left) Mussel Bed Survey (right)

Mussel Surveys

NIFCA conduct surveys on the mussel beds at Fenham Flats and the Blyth Estuary to assess and monitor their condition. Onsite the perimeter of the mussel bed is mapped, percentage cover is estimated using either the “Walker and Nicholson” technique (Fenham Flats) or the “Dutch Wand” technique (Blyth) and mussel samples are collected from each site for further analysis back at NIFCA’s offices.

Habitat Surveys

Between 2013 and 2104 NIFCA used underwater camera to collect geo-referenced video and stills of seabed features within the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC. NIFCA analysed these videos in 2015-16 identifying areas of hard and soft ground. Three soft ground areas (see map opposite) were identified and NIFCA are in the process of considering opening these areas to vessels fishing using mobile gear.

Underwater video to follow soon

North East Beached Bird Surveys (NEBBS)

NIFCA assist NEBBS by conducting a survey of approximately 1-1.5km of beach at both Druridge Bay and Beadnell Bay once per month. During this survey we are looking for the remains of dead birds, identifying the species where possible, looking for cause of death, taking photos and sending the information and occasionally specimens to the NEBBS.

Officers on NEBBS Survey