Pollack is an economically and socially important species for communities along the Devon and Cornwall coast, and has experienced a 72% decline in commercial landings over the last 20 years. A lack of evidence hampers fisheries management, so the Pollack FISP will collect vital data about pollack movement, habitat choice, populations and life history.

Data Collection

Pollack will be fitted with acoustic tags, allowing their movements to be tracked using a network of receivers around the UK and Europe. Each tag continuously emits a uniquely coded ‘ping’ which can be detected by receivers on the seabed. 
This tracking data will reveal when and where pollack migrate, and identify habitats that are important for the fish, particularly at sensitive times such as spawning. It will also provide mortality estimates by identifying uncharacteristic absences of tagged fish. 
Pollack FISP

Working Together

Fisheries data will also be collected by project partners. Anecdotal reports from commercial and recreational fishers have reported declining catch rates, with boats having to increase effort to capture fewer and smaller fish. To provide empirical evidence and inform future sustainable management, the project will analyse historic trends in pollack populations using catch logbooks from charter boats and records of trophy catches held at angling clubs. For the duration of the project, a consortium of charter vessels will collect Catch Per Unit Effort data. 
In addition, a subsample of fish will be retained to provide biological data for stock assessment. Stomach contents will be analysed to identify prey species, and gonads will be used to calculate spawning activity. Each fish will be measured and aged, providing information on their size at different ages and at maturity.
Research vessel


Overall, the project will provide a strong evidence-base to inform sustainable management of pollack fisheries in the Channel. To help translate the data into policy, fishers will be interviewed to identify common concerns and ideas for fisheries-management recommendations.
The project is led by Dr Emma Sheehan and post-doctoral researcher Dr Thomas Stamp from the University of Plymouth. It is supported by funding from the Defra Fisheries in Science Partnership (FISP) scheme, and delivered in partnership with the Professional Boatman’s Association, the University of York, the Angling Trust and Cefas.

More Information 

About the Pollack FISP is available on the Angling Trust website
About the receiver network can be found on the FISH INTEL webpage