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Chartered Herring Acoustic Survey to take place in Manx Waters 22 September 2009

If you see a suspiciously large fishing vessel fishing close to the Isle of Man this week don’t worry! The Northern Irish ‘supertrawler’ the Havilah, is undertaking an acoustic survey of the Manx herring stock, which is currently spawning on the east coast of the Island. The Havilah, being used by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) from Northern Ireland, will be commencing its survey off the North East coast and will then proceed in a clockwise direction around the Island.

The vessel is currently situated in Laxey Bay where it is undertaking a calibration process of its equipment prior to commencing the survey. The vessel will be travelling at a surveying speed of some 10 knots, though that will be dependent on the weather conditions that prevail.

The purpose of the survey is to estimate the distribution, abundance and population of herring in the Irish Sea through a process called “echo-integration” and also by taking samples of herring during the survey period.

Herring surveys have been undertaken in the Irish Sea area in previous years. However, this particular survey is to focus predominantly on Isle of Man coastal waters and Scottish coastal waters. The Havilah will be undertaking mid-water trawling during both daylight and darkness. Trawl catches, which will consist of both herring and sprats, are to be sorted into species and size with samples taken from each catch for scientific recording purposes.

Minister for the Department, Phil Gawne, MHK said “This annual survey is useful to the fishing industry in order to ascertain if stock recovery is being enabled through quota limits. After very serious overfishing a few decades ago Manx herring appear to be recovering well, and I look forward to seeing the results of the survey in the near future.”

Further AFBI surveys are expected to take place in late September, October and November on both the research vessel ‘Corystes’ and a chartered commercial vessel.

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