• Atlantic Herring and Horse Mackerel in 6aS/7b; Industry Acoustic Survey Cruise Report

      O'Malley, M.; Blaszkowski, M.; White, Emma; O'Brien, S.; Mullins, E. (Marine Institute, 2019)
      An acoustic survey of Atlantic herring Clupea harengus and horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus was conducted in ICES areas 6aS/7b in Nov 2018 using the pair trawl vessels MFV Eilean Croine S238 and MFV Sparkling Star D437. This survey is the third in a time series that is hoped will be developed into a long-term index of spawning/pre-spawning herring and horse mackerel in 6aS/7b, for use in stock assessments in the future. The survey design was based on the predicted distribution of herring and horse mackerel in this area during this time. In total 1,400nmi of cruise track was completed using 37 transects and related to a total area coverage of approximately 5,600 nmi². Parallel transect spacing was set at 7.5nmi for the wider area strata, and 3.5nmi for Donegal Bay and Achill strata. Coverage extended from inshore coastal areas to the 200 m contour in the west and north where possible. A survey was carried out in Lough Swilly using a zig-zag design. A Simrad ES-38B (38 kHz) split-beam transducer mounted on a towed body was used to collect acoustic raw data. Very strong herring marks were evident in Lough Swilly, an area where boats in the monitoring fishery were concentrating effort. There were a few herring marks in discreet areas around Glen Head, Bruckless Bay, Inishmurray and Inishbofin. A total of four commercial fishing hauls on horse mackerel were completed during the survey. Biological samples from the monitoring fishery of herring were used to augment the samples from the survey. Herring samples were taken from boats fishing in Lough Swilly and Bruckless Bay as close spatially and temporally as possible to the survey in these areas. Herring were dominated overall by 4-wr fish, 29% of the overall numbers. Horse mackerel were distributed throughout the survey area, but particularly throughout the area to the north and west of the Stags of Broadhaven. Horse mackerel length distribution was dominated by a mode at 25-26cm. This corresponded to a dominance of 4-wr fish (~89%) in all of the samples. The total stock biomass (TSB) estimate of herring for the combined 6aS/7b area was 50,145 tonnes (Lough Swilly = 32,372 tonnes, Donegal Bay = 9,517 tonnes, NW area = 7,710 tonnes and the remaining Achill strata = 545 tonnes). This is considered to be a minimum estimate of herring in the 6aS/7b survey area at the time of the survey. The TSB estimate of horse mackerel for the total surveyed area in 6aS/7b area was 57,162 tonnes, considered to be a minimum estimate of horse mackerel in the 6aS/7b survey area at the time of the survey. The CV estimates on biomass and abundance are high (~0.51 for herring and ~ 0.36 for horse mackerel) for the survey in 2018. For herring, this is mostly caused by the over-reliance on a few acoustic marks of herring in Lough Swilly and Bruckless Bay in particular. Horse mackerel are a widely distributed stock, therefore the stock was not contained by this survey.