• Distribution, population structure, growth and reproduction of the razor clam Ensis arcuatus (Jeffreys) (Solenaceae) in coastal waters of western Ireland

      Fahy, E.; Norman, M.; Browne, R.; Roantree, V.; Pfeiffer, N.; Stokes, D.; Carroll, J.; Hannaffy, O. (Marine Institute, 2001)
      Samples of razor clams, Ensis arcuatus, the species which makes up the majority of landings from the west coast of Ireland, were collected by commercial fishery methods, in association with the dredge fishery and by scuba diving, from three locations off the coast of Co Galway. E. arcuatus occupies coarse sand (of maerl and shell fragments) and rarely co-exists with the other common species of the region, E. siliqua. E. arcuatus were aged, an age-length-key devised for them, and growth parameters (Linf, k and t0) were calculated. Their maturation state was established by histological examination. Evidence suggests that Ensis arcuatus is mainly a spring spawner, although some spawning appears to take place in most months, with a spatfall in June/July. Maturation commences in its third year. Asymptotic length is achieved at 10 years, approximately, and there was little variability in growth among the three sampling areas or between the sexes. In a small bed of razor clams in Cill Chiarain Bay, Co Galway, there would appear to have been a spatfall in most, if not all, of the past 15 years. The quantitative distribution of E. arcuatus in a single bay within the boundaries of Comharchuman Sliogeisc Chonamara Teo, Co Galway, was estimated by divers salting quadrats of 0.33 m2. The razor clam community is divided into a generally distributed fraction occurring at low density (described as the non-bed) and at a relatively higher density (described as the clam bed). The bed was situated in the lee of reefs, which is usually the case for this species along the Atlantic seaboard. More than 90% of the biomass was above the E.U. minimum size limit.
    • The inshore pot fishery for brown crab (Cancer pagurus) landing into south east Ireland: estimate of yield and assessment of status

      Fahy, E.; Carroll, J.; Stokes, D. (Marine Institute, 2002)
      Although it is regarded as an important focus of brown crab Cancer pagurus landings, the fishery in south east Ireland is poorly documented and the official statistics are believed to under-record the species by a factor of 2-3. This appraisal of the south east Ireland brown crab fishery is based on >22,000 records of sales transactions from the 1990s and a comparison of the biological characteristics of landings in the late 1960s with thirty years later, in the context of increasing fishing effort. The three buyers who gave access to their books inwards for periods of the 1990s, purchase from the same fishing community and they compete for product but they occupy slightly different market niches: a vivier truck operator exports to Spain, a processor concentrates on autumn purchases of female crab for vacuum packing while the third buys crab claws for human consumption and crab bodies which are used as bait for whelk Buccinum undatum. Only the first sales of crab from 55 km of coastline are considered. In this area fishing effort doubled between 1972 and 1988 but expansion accelerated in the following decade by at least 128%; a single operator increased his effort by 80% between 1988 and 1998. In the 30 years after 1968, the number of pots per km of coastline rose by 241%.The sale of brown crab is recorded in consignments which are raised to live weights in the analysis. Consignment size fell steeply in the late 1980s and early 1990s after which it stabilised; adjusting the figures to allow for increasing effort accentuated the trend; at the same time consignment number rose. Allowing that a decline in consignment size was accompanied by an increase in pot number, consignment number should have risen by 310% to maintain landings at the level recorded in 1990; the largest recorded increase in consignment number was by 230% and while it is accepted that all sales transactions have not been obtained, it is likely that LPUE has been declining over the 1990s in real terms in this fishery. Increasing fishing effort during that time is seen as a product of better technology, stimulated by a desire to compensate for falling LPUE. Comparison of size and sex composition of the landings recorded in the late 1960s and the late 1990s are inconclusive. Depth of water and type of substratum are likely to influence the composition of inshore landings. An argument is presented that the south east inshore crab fishery is fully or over-exploited. It is likely to have an offshore component and such occasional data as are available on brown crab further south suggest that the offshore is an under-exploited fishery. In which case, the rate of interchange between the two components is likely to be crucial to the continued performance of the inshore fishery