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North Sea Pipefish Explosion Worries Anglers

Sep 24,2006 SACN

Anglers fishing from the North East Coast are reporting an explosion of pipefish.

With catches stuffed with pipefish, there are growing concerns for the fishstocks, particularly cod, that are feeding upon them in preference to more traditional oily feed fish such as sandeels and sprats.

Already it has been seen that birds feeding their young on pipefish are suffering badly from malnutrition and anglers fear that fish stocks will suffer in the same way.

There is speculation that the pipefish explosion has been caused by the disappearance from North Sea waters of large stocks of oily fish, leaving the ground and feed vacated available for an increased pipefish population.

Information and informed discussion of the problem has taken place on the Anglersnet Forum

And concern about the effect on bird populations   h e r e

"............. But wardens sometimes had to intervene to prevent tern chicks choking, as parent birds tried to feed them unfeasibly large pipefish. Again, a shortage of sandeels was blamed.

The disappearance of sandeels has afflicted the UK’s North Sea coast from Yorkshire to Shetland, where the stock collapse was so severe that fishermen voluntarily shut down the fishery in the worst affected area. By contrast to the small local inshore fishery in the Shetlands, the huge (Danish-led) offshore sandeel fishery in the North Sea kept going but struggled to catch 300,000 tonnes of sandeels out of an annual quota in excess of 800,000.

What has caused the collapse of the sandeel population? In what scientists are labelling a "regime shift", rising sea temperatures have fundamentally changed the plankton mix, to the detriment of sandeels. "

( http://www.birdlife.org/news/features/2005/01/north_sea_seabirds.html )


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