Reacting to the revised ICES figures for mackerel stocks in the north-east Atlantic, fishermen in Shetland today urged decision-makers to listen to the catching sector and not rely solely on computer models.
ICES had indicated a spawning stock biomass in the area of 2.35 million tonnes, resulting in the species’ Marine Stewardship Council status – the key measure of sustainability – being suspended. This has now been adjusted upwards to 4.2 million tonnes.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said: “We have been the responsible player throughout all of this, and it gives us no pleasure to say ‘We told you so’.
“We warned governments repeatedly that the science was way out of step with what our guys were seeing daily on the fishing grounds.
“But instead of ensuring that the scientists could carry out meaningful observations at sea, they relied on algorithims.
“The decisions made in response to these wholly inaccurate desktop computer models have played havoc with markets and with livelihoods, and it is not the first time that this has happened. We are sick and tired of the continued use of this evidently flawed process.
“You’ve got to get out there and talk to fishermen, carry out a reality check. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”