In the Celtic Sea and ICES Division VIIj, to the south and southwest of Ireland, herring is an important commercial species and currently Ireland is the only country targeting this species in this area. Herring in this region comprise both autumn and winter spawning components. Commercial fishing has targeted the fish during spawning times, though in most recent years fish have been targeted during the summer feeding phase too. In VIIj, fishing has traditionally taken place in October, and concentrated in the bays and inlets. In contrast, fishing in VIIaS has mainly been in December to January, though in VIIg the fishery traditionally takes place from November to January. The protracted spawning period of herring and the overlap between the two spawning socks in this area (October to February) means that it is difficult to design a survey that covers all spawning fish in one specific survey. The stock structure and discrimination of herring in this area is not fully understood. It is known that fish in the eastern Celtic Sea recruit from nursery areas in the Irish Sea and tagging studies have shown linkages between these areas also. For the purpose of stock assessment and management these areas have been combined since 1982. A project is currently underway to describe stock structure and discrimination of herring around Ireland. The results of this project may have implications for the design of this survey and for the stock assessment. For a period in the 1980’s, egg and larval surveys were conducted for herring in this area. However, since 1989, acoustic surveys have been carried out, and currently are the only tuning indices available. In the Celtic Sea and VIIj, herring acoustic surveys have been carried out since 1989, and the current survey is the 15th in the series. In addition to the survey track a small component (Baginbun) was intensively surveyed using acoustic and multibeam mapping techniques. The Baginbun area is located east of Waterford Harbour in ICES division VIIaS. Baginbun has supported a large winter fishery for many years and is one of the most important and well known winter spawning areas on the south coast. This year for the first time the RV Celtic Explorer was to survey the area. This allowed a more extensive degree of coverage in the time allocated, the survey was further complemented with a number of hydrographic transects concentrating along the bays in the west and southwest and also along the southern coastline.
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