Megrim

Lepidirhombus whiffogonia

Megrim

Image | Sarah McCartney copyright Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Description

Also known as Cornish Sole, Megrim is a deep water, flatfish which tastes incredible. Like a flat version of a bass a megrim has a huge mouth used to suck up its prey, which mainly consists of smaller fish. Megrims are caught by Cornish trawlers who are using modern, more selective fishing gear. They are pale in colour and have delicious tender meat. 


Sustainability Overview

Megrim are caught by trawl fisheries in deeper water by Cornish vessels. The stocks of megrim are reportedly healthy although there is need for better studies of the stock. In Cornwall the minimum landing size is 25cm. Cornwall’s trawling fleet has been reduced in size in the last 20 years. The majority of trawlers are using 110mm mesh and square mesh panels which allow juvenile fish to escape more easily. Megrim catches are capped by an EU total allowable catch. Additionally marine protected areas are being established that protect the seabed from the impact of trawling and dredging.

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Beam Trawling

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Beam trawls are nets with a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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Demersal Trawl

Cornish Vessels landing to Cornish ports

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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How we rate fish

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Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.

Sustainability Overview

Megrim are caught by trawl fisheries in deeper water by Cornish vessels. The stocks of megrim are reportedly healthy although there is need for better studies of the stock. In Cornwall the minimum landing size is 25cm. Cornwall’s trawling fleet has been reduced in size in the last 20 years. The majority of trawlers are using 110mm mesh and square mesh panels which allow juvenile fish to escape more easily. Megrim catches are capped by an EU total allowable catch. Additionally marine protected areas are being established that protect the seabed from the impact of trawling and dredging.

Megrim

Biology

Megrim is a common flatfish that lives on the continental shelf of Northeast Atlantic.  Megrim can grow to 60cm in length but more usually grow up to 35-45cm. 50% of individuals reach sexual maturity at about 20cm at 2.5 years old.
Megrim spawn between January and April along the edge of the continental shelf to the southwest and west of the British Isles. They are found at depths ranging from 50-800 m, but with the highest abundance around 100-300m. Megrim can live for a maximum age of 14-15 years. Megrim have a moderate biological vulnerability rating of 60% (Cheung et al 2005 www.fishbase.org)
  

Stock Info

Megrim stocks are relatively poorly studied in our area but the latest ICES advice says that although data limited the studies they do have show that megrim stocks are increasing and fishing effort on this stock is decreasing.  Landings to Cornish ports are now increasing (MMO data) despite reduced fishing effort. Project inshore said that survey and commercial data indicate an SSB increase of 25% between (2009-2010) relative to the previous years (2006-2008).  A long term fisheries science partnership study carried out between 2003 and 2013 showed that megrim catches were constant and increased during the study. (FSP Western Anglerfish). In their 2015 advice ICES recommend the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is increased by 20%. In waters of the Northern North Sea and West of Sctoland megrim stocks have been studied in far more detail and here the stocks are well above Maximum sustainable levels and fishing effort is well below sustainable levels according to ICES.

Management

Megrim stocks are managed through the EU Common Fisheries Policy which sets an annual quota. EU minimum landing size for megrim is 20cm  but within Cornwall’s 6 mile limit Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have set a minimum landing size of 25cm.There is currenlty no long term management plan for Megrim in EU waters but the CFP is committed to bring all commercial stocks to maximum productivity (Maximum sustainable yield) by 2020. 

Capture Info

The majority of megrim landed to Cornish ports are caught with beam trawls and demersal trawls. The Cornish beam trawl fleet has been much reduced in the last 20 years and the vessels themselves are far smaller than typical Scottish and Dutch beam trawlers.  Beam trawling has been shown to have a considerable impact on the seabed, damaging fragile sessile invertebrates thus changing composition of benthic communities. FAO 2005. Sewell and Hiscock 2005  Significant measures are being taken to improve selectivity and reduce impacts of trawl fisheries in the south west including, square mesh panels, roller ball foot ropes and CCTV monitoring of catches to prove low levels of discards. In comparison to trawlers from other areas of Europe beam trawlers in Cornwall are all relatively small and there are limits on size of beams being used within Cornwall IFCA district. Negative impacts of trawling are greatest in those areas where seabed habitats are not subject to high levels of natural disturbance. The rates of recovery for benthic communities following intensive trawling disturbance may range from weeks to years, with rates of recovery depending on rates of immigration, recruitment and growth. 

References

Risk Assessment for seafood sourcing,Seafish Megrim

Project inshore Pre assessment database

Marine Conservation Society www.fishonline.org

ICES advice megrim 2016

Seafish responsible sourcing guide megrim

MMO landings data

Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111 (www.fishbase.org)

CEFAS Fisheries Science Partnership 2003 - 2013 Western anglerfish

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