Cumbrian creel project
The Cumbrian creel project is an innovative project working with local fishermen to diversify away from destructive bottom towed trawling to more sustainable methods. In July 2019, management measures were implemented within the West of Walney MCZ, prohibiting the use of bottom-towed fishing gear, such as trawls, from the majority of the site. Exploring the feasibility of other, more sustainable fishing methods to target the same species within protected areas could reduce the socio-economic impact of these designations.
Creel fishing has the benefit of catching a higher-value and quality product, caught using lower-impact methods. Creeling for Nephrops could yield a higher unit price due to larger target sizes and better condition of the catch. Switching to creeling for Nephrops would: allow the recovery of associated habitats and other marine organisms; reduce bycatch and increase bycatch survival; increase the areas fisherman can utilise; and increase biodiversity. Creeling could introduce a fishery that targets higher-quality catch, reduces environmental impacts and increases the economic sustainability of inshore fishing fleets.
Our key aims
♦ Reduce the socio-economic impact of fishing and conservation
♦ Allow the seabed and fish populations to recover
♦ Restore blue carbon habitats
♦ Promote economic sustainability for deprived coastal communities
A pilot project was run in 2019. Overall, 390 Nephrops were caught in 298 creels over 8 trips but only saleable condition (intact Nephrops) and those of a suitable size were counted (EU Size Grade 2 and above: >31.9mm). From this subset of the data, a total of 340 Nephrops were caught in 203 creels, giving an average catch of 1.68 Nephrops per creel. Around 90% of all Nephrops caught were male. The average carapace length was 40mm and the estimated average weight was 51.7g per individual or less than 20 individuals per kg.
Key findings of the pilot project: